Category Archives: #ireland

Bargain retail chain has eyes on Northern Ireland expansion

Discount retailer B&M will open two new stores in Northern Ireland in the coming months as part of its UK expansion plans.

The retailer is set to take over a former JJB Store at Drumkeen Retail Park in south Belfast as well as a opening a new unit in Ballynahinch.

The Drumkeen store will open on March 9, creating more than 25 jobs.

While the retailer would not confirm the opening of another Co Down store, job vacancies on its website for a ‘new Ballynahinch store’ indicate that it has interests in a new branch there.

“We try to open 50-60 stores a year so we’re always looking for new sites, which means recruitment can sometimes search areas to see if the local community are interested,” said a spokeswoman.

Speaking about the Belfast store, which is facing Forestside shopping centre, she added: “We are all really excited to get the doors open and welcome our new customers through the door in a few weeks.”

Cashier-less shop set to open in Cork

A brand new, cashier-free shop is set to open in Cork early next year, in what looks to be a world’s first.

The Irish Examiner reports retail technology agency Everseen is developing the store on French Church Street, which uses mobile technology, beacons, and other highly advanced techniques to allow customers to walk in, pick up what they want and simply walk out. The price of their messages will be applied to their account without any till or checkout interaction require.

Everseen, which works with some of the world’s top retailers in loss-prevention techniques, says the technology involves a lot more than simply removing the registers.

“0Line [Zero Line] gives offline retailers intelligence about their customers,” says Alan O’Herlihy, CEO of Everseen. “It allows them to respond to consumer behaviour and emotions, not just purchasing patterns.”

Amazon has been testing a similar store near its HQ in Seattle for several months, but it is yet to open to the public. Looks like there’s something of an arms race developing in the area of self-service.

O’Herlihy added that Everseen believes it can introduce the technology to “football stadium-sized” stores within the next two years.

Retail revamp for Dublin airport T2

Daa, the operator of Dublin airport, has confirmed the main retail area in the departures lounge of terminal two at the airport is set to be revamped.

Tender documents seen by DFNIonline show daa is looking for a panel of six construction companies to work on the refit, which will include the fit out of a 1,350sq m duty-free store, over the next three years. The panel of construction companies will bid for the work in the airport’s retail areas as it arises in the coming years.

The work will primarily take in Aer Rianta International (ARI)’s The Loop outlet in the terminal. A spokesman for the airport operator confirmed the work was initially planned for ARI’s directly operated stores, but that other third-party concessionaires in the terminal can decide to use a firm from the panel if they wish to refurbish their stores.

A two-phase project

Phase one of the initial project will see a new 410sq m liquor store added to the terminal for ARI and five new concession retail units developed. The concession units will be a 60sq m sunglasses store, a 60sq m luggage store, an 80sq m watches/jewellery store and two fashion stores (60sq m and 80sq m).

The main part of the second phase of the works will see the contractors fit out a new 1,350sq m duty-free store for ARI. Two direct retail fashion units (60sq m and 80sq m) will also be fitted out and the existing Irish Memories unit will have a soft refurbishment.

The refurbishment works will be the €600m ($706m) terminal’s first major upgrade since its opening in 2010.

Tesco now the largest contactless retailer in Ireland

Geraldine Casey, people & IT director at Tesco Ireland joins Philip Konopik, country manager Ireland, Visa as Tesco is named the largest contactless retailer in Ireland with over 2,200 contactless payment terminals in its stores across the country

With over 2,200 contactless payment terminals across the country, Tesco has become the largest contactless retailer in Ireland. The retailer completed the national roll out of contactless technology to all its 149 stores earlier this year, offering consumers the fastest transaction times.
In fact, the average number of contactless Visa transactions is reaching over 330,000 every week.
“Customers are responding well to this offering,” says Geraldine Casey, people & IT director at Tesco Ireland, “with transactions in our stores now accounting for 10% of all Visa contactless transactions.”
Philip Konopik, country manager, Ireland, Visa, praised Tesco for  “enabling their customers to benefit from a faster and easier checkout experience.
“That Tesco customers have been so quick to adapt to using contactless technology is a testament to the quality of Tesco’s implementation and in-store communication at the point of sale,” Konopik added.
The increasing popularity of contactless technology among Tesco customers is in line with the rest of the Irish retail sector. According to Visa, over three million contactless transactions are made each week across Ireland, growing from a standing start just over two years ago. As a result, contactless now accounts for one in three of all face-to-face Visa payments.
The increase in the contactless payment threshold from €15 to €30 has had a significant impact on the growth in popularity of contactless payments.

McDonald’s scales back its Irish head-office team

A NUMBER of roles at McDonald’s Ireland corporate headquarters have been cut as part of a global cost-reduction, the Irish Independent has learned.

The ‘Sunday Independent’ reported at the weekend that McDonald’s is scaling back its head-office operations in Ireland, with the business set to be managed from the UK.
The managing director of the Irish business, Adrian Crean, is to leave the business this month and sources have said he will not be replaced.
Other staff at the head office in Clonskeagh, Dublin, were notified of the risk of redundancy in March of this year, according to a source close to the matter.
Through a series of redundancy consultation emails and meetings following the initial announcement, a number of employees were informed that their positions were “being removed from the structure”.
In an email sent on Friday, June 9, staff were told that McDonald’s Ireland MD Adrian Crean would be stepping down from the role on July 31 after a period of “gardening leave”.
The source told the Irish Independent that the original team in the head office of around 40 – “most of whom had worked with McDonalds for 15-30 years” – was being reduced to just six.
The senior staff were told that the changes to the Irish structure were originally put in motion in 2015 by CEO Steve Easterbrook, who had just taken over from Don Thompson.
“He identified a plan to achieve returns (to ensure continued investor support)… and alongside it a reduction in the cost of running the McDonald’s global business.
“A large part of these running costs is made up of salary costs.
“This means that we are identifying a number of roles which will be at risk of redundancy.”
The source said staff were offered alternative vacancies “in the restaurants in Ireland” or ‘outplacements’, meaning jobs based in the UK.
The affected employees are understood to be bound by confidentiality agreements that they are disinclined to break “or they will not receive their redundancy pay”.
McDonald’s opened its first Irish store in Grafton Street in May 1977 and operates in 92 stores nationwide.
McDonald’s Ireland said it was committed to its customers, franchisees and the 5,000 people who work in the restaurants across the country.
“For over a decade, the Irish business has been part of the UK and Ireland business unit and we have recently made some operational changes to reflect that structure,” said a spokesperson.
“In a planned restructuring, operations at the Dublin office are being scaled back.
“We are currently in a consultation process with our employees and are not able to give specific details while the new corporate structure is being finalised.
“However, McDonald’s staff and franchisees are already aware that Adrian Crean will be stepping down as McDonald’s’ Restaurants of Ireland managing director at the end of July.”

Musgrave unveils new brand identity

To celebrate the anniversary of brothers Thomas and Stuart Musgrave launching the business just over 140 years ago, Musgrave has unveiled a new brand identity.
The company has revealed a new logo – a modified version of the Musgrave chairman in 1902’s signature – which will now rollout across the entire Musgrave business.
Commenting on the new brand identity, Musgrave CEO Chris Martin described it as “a symbol of Musgrave’s heritage and the pride we share in being a sixth-generation Irish family business”.
He added that the new identity “will support our ethos of Growing Good Business as we continue to expand our retail, wholesale and export offering”.
Musgrave’s brands comprise SuperValu, Centra, Daybreak and Marketplace. Together with its retail partners, the business employs over 35,000 people in the Republic of Ireland alone – making it the State’s largest private sector employer.
Musgrave’s Growing Good Business strategy has also seen the company explore new opportunities, including the rollout of Frank & Honest, its new artisan take away coffee brand which has been launched in SuperValu and Centra. The strategy has also encompassed the development of a food emporium at its Musgrave Marketplace in two locations in Dublin; the launch of Chipmongers, it’s new foodservice franchise; and export to China through a partnership with Alibaba which has seen Musgrave start to export SuperValu products.
“Food retail is our core business and we are focused on strengthening the leadership position of our brands through our food leadership agenda, through investing in digital and by building on the foundation of our success,” Martin added.

UK card chain to expand into Ireland

 Card Factory, which has more than 800 stores in Britain, has targeted opening 50 stores a year over the next three years1
Card Factory, which has more than 800 stores in Britain, has targeted opening 50 stores a year over the next three years

UK high street retailer the Card Factory is gearing up for its entry to the Irish market, three years after it first floated a plan to open as many as 100 outlets here.
New CEO Karen Hubbard, who has been in the role for just a year, has told investors that she intends to pursue a strategy of expanding in Ireland and that there is a “clear opportunity” to build a strong presence here.
The retailer has just established a company in Ireland to spearhead the expansion.
Over the next three years, Card Factory plans to open a total of about 50 stores a year.
At the beginning of February 2016, it had 814 outlets across the UK, including a handful in the North, a figure that had risen to 865 at the end of last January.
Listed on the stock market, Card Factory posted revenue of £398.2m (€473.2m) in its last financial year, with like-for-like increases of under 1pc.
Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) was £98.5m (€117m), which was 3.8pc higher on the previous financial year. Its margin slipped slightly from 24.9pc to 24.7pc.
The profits fell as footfall to its stores declined.
But apart from paying a regular dividend, it also paid a special dividend to shareholders. It is a strong cash generator and has only a small amount of debt on its books.
The company floated on the stock market in May 2014, in an initial public offering that was widely seen as unsuccessful at the time.
But its market capitalisation has risen from £712m in 2014 to the current £1.1bn (€1.3bn).
Card Factory recently hired Edinburgh Woollen Mills finance boss Kristian Lee as its chief financial officer.

Liffey Valley boss says centre is fighting fit 

Liffey Valley boss says centre is fighting fit after €630m takeover by Germany’s BVK
Interview: Denis O’Connell, Centre Director, Liffey Valley SC Denis O’Connell has been with Liffey Valley Shopping Centre since it was a plan on paper. He’s seen the highs of the boom and depths of the recession – when many retailers struggled just to make the rent. But he tells John Mulligan that despite a generally tough Christmas, the centre has been doing well, helped by a huge new Penneys store.
Published 26/01/2017 | 02:30

 Dennis O’Connell, manager of Liffey Valley Shopping Centre1

Dennis O’Connell, manager of Liffey Valley Shopping Centre

It’s hard to imagine global mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor wandering about the Liffey Valley shopping centre and plonking himself down to have a coffee at Costa.
“You’d see him in Nando’s sometimes, having a bite to eat with his friends,” says Denis O’Connell, the director of the west Dublin shopping venue.
McGregor’s parents live in nearby Lucan. O’Connell says that when McGregor became really famous, he’d always take time out to let kids take selfies with him.
“I haven’t seen him here in about six months though,” says O’Connell, sounding a bit disappointed.
Maybe he could take on McGregor as a brand ambassador?
O’Connell isn’t too sure about that idea. At any rate, the time is past. McGregor might have been got for a steal a few years ago. Now he would break the bank.
O’Connell (48) has been working at the Liffey Valley centre – the third-biggest in the country after Dundrum and Blanchardstown, also both in the capital – since before it opened in 1998, he was brought on board as construction got under way. Within 18 months or so of it opening its doors, he became the centre director – a role he’s had ever since.
Controversy hung over the centre’s early years. The original planning for the site was the subject of intense interest at the Mahon Tribunal.
As we sat down to talk, news had just filtered through that Owen O’Callaghan – the original developer of Liffey Valley – had died the night before.
Today, with about 100 outlets and footfall of 8.6 million last year, the centre is owned by Germany’s largest public pensions group, Bayersche Versorgungskammer (BVK), for €630m, who bought the property last year.
It was sold by one of the original developers, Grosvenor, as well as US property giant Hines and a unit of HSBC. Hines and the HSBC unit had acquired a combined 73pc stake in Liffey Valley in 2014 from Aviva Investors for €250m, making for a stellar return on their investment.
The centre had been put up for sale in 2011 for €350m, but had failed to sell. A sale was close at the time, says O’Connell, but just couldn’t get past the post.
But they were dark times. The country was enduring a financial, social and economic implosion.
O’Connell almost shudders when he recalls it.
“The world crashed in 2008, but it didn’t really filter through here until about 2010 or 2011,” the Tullamore man says. “Our numbers (of visitors) dropped, albeit by small amounts – by 2.5pc or 3pc each year. But the spend got hit, particularly at premium outlets.”
Men’s fashion was worst hit.
O’Connell says concessions – on rents, in particular – were given, but only where retailers were prepared to let Liffey Valley management to see their accounts, and also what remedial action the retailers had taken themselves to stem declines. “We wanted to see audited accounts, cash flows, and business plans for the next three years,” he says. “Some objected strongly to showing us their accounts, so we couldn’t make arbitrary decisions on rents in their cases.”
The recession also saw the advent of new leases, with a 2009 act having banned any new upward-only rent reviews in leases. About 17pc of tenants at Liffey Valley are on such new leases and that first batch is now coming up for rent review. Most will probably face single-digit percentage increases.
Liffey Valley’s annual rent roll is between €30m and €35m. It had been closer to €40m during the boom. The centre – with a catchment of about 1.7 million people within a 30-minute drive – is anchored by Marks & Spencer and Dunnes Stores, with most of the usual suspects renting the other units. Liffey Valley is also home to the busiest cinema complex in the country – the 14-screen Vue.
“The best thing to come out of the recession in my view – it may sound like a cliche – is that there’s a lot more of a partnership approach between landlords and tenants, certainly here,” O’Connell says.
Interestingly, he says that while men’s fashion was worst hit during the recession, sales of formal wear have picked up since the recovery began.
“Sales of men’s formal wear – business suits – has picked up faster than casual wear,” he says. “There’s a Conor McGregor factor in there somewhere. Come back here in three weeks’ time when shopping for Confirmation kicks off. Kids are looking for three-piece tweed suits and dickie bows. It’s hilarious.”
According to the latest available data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the value of retail sales, excluding motor sales, rose 1.8pc in November, and 2.2pc on an annual basis.
The volume of retail sales, excluding motors, was up 0.6pc and 2.1pc respectively on that basis.
Industry group Retail Excellence Ireland sounded warnings just a couple of days before Christmas that the festive season had been “challenging” and on par with 2015.
Online sales had soared as shoppers took advantage of weak sterling, while telecoms, ladieswear, jewellery and footwear sales were “significantly down”, it said.
O’Connell, who worked in his father’s pharmacy as a youngster in Tullamore, says he would track REI’s assessment before the CSO’s, because REI is closer to retailers on the ground.
But despite REI’s gloomy report, O’Connell says that Christmas trading at Liffey Valley was pretty good, with a “very strong end” to the year. Footfall to the centre in December touched just under 1.4 million – a 16pc increase on December 2015.
Its sales of giftcards (a card that can be used in any store in the centre), jumped 17pc in December to €1.6m. Full-year sales of those giftcards were up about 13pc, at €3m.
“Things were tough coming into the last quarter,” he says, with things “improving slowly”.
He blames higher rents and soaring new car sales for having “sucked the money” out of retail.
New car sales hit their highest level in eight years in 2016, rising 17.4p on 2015 to 146,385.
Residential rents rose by almost 4pc in the third quarter of 2016, according to most recent report from Daft, making for an 11.7pc annual rate of rent inflation across the country – the highest recorded by Daft since it began compiling rent reports in 2002.
“Rent increases are taking disposable income away from retail,” he says.
“Within our catchment area rents have increased and there’s been virtually no housebuilding. So, people who are renting have no option but to pay more. Something has to give.
“The increase in new car sales – with PCPs (Personal Contract Plans) that are attractive – also takes away disposable income that might have historically been spent in places like this,” he adds.
But one of the things that has given Liffey Valley a huge boost is its first Penneys store (the chain is owned by UK-listed firm Associated British Foods, and trades as Primark outside Ireland).
Incredibly, the opening in early December of the massive outlet (with 54,000 sq ft of retail space) was the second-busiest opening of any Primark store ever, beaten only by the 2015 opening of the Grand Via Madrid outlet in Spain.
It’s hard to believe that Irish people – with 36 other Penneys outlets already in the country – flocked en masse to the new Liffey Valley shop on a Tuesday morning. O’Connell won’t say how much rent Penneys is paying, but industry insiders reckon it’s probably as high as €1.6m or €1.7m a year.
“The Penneys effect was massive for us,” says O’Connell, a former hotelier whose wife, Ingrid Ryan, is the centre manager of the Whitewater shopping centre in Newbridge, Co Kildare (in 2015, she was named All-Ireland Manager of the Year at the prestigious Spectre Awards in London).
“We knew it would bring a significant uplift in footfall to the scheme as a whole, but we didn’t anticipate the numbers,” he adds.
The Penneys outlet had 18,000 visitors on its opening day, and the centre itself attracted an extra 10,500 shoppers, making for 28,000 that day.
“And it has continued. The first week they opened, we were up 34pc. As December passed, we were still showing 16pc, 17pc or 19pc of an uplift. It’s been the same in January.”
One of the reasons it took Penneys so long to arrive at Liffey Valley was the lack of a large space that it could take on. Liffey Valley spent €26m on an upgrade that involved a reconfiguration of the cinema and other works that gave Penneys the kind of space it wanted.
Liffey Valley also has plans for a €150m extension that would increase the size of the centre by about 50pc. It will also see the construction of an Olympic-sized ice-rink and viewing area.
That would give it the opportunity to attract retailers it doesn’t have and which want large spaces like those Penneys has. Spain’s Inditex, the owner of Zara, is one of those that O’Connell would like to see with a store in Liffey Valley.
Meanwhile, O’Connell says he hasn’t yet met with the new owners of the centre. The investment by BVK’s acquisition was made on its behalf by its investment manager, Universal Investment. Hines is continuing to act as asset and development manager for Liffey Valley.
Maybe if the new owners cause any trouble he can just give Conor McGregor a call.

Aldi (Ireland)to open 20 new stores in €100m grocery expansion plan

Chain’s investment aims to put a store within reach of every shopper and create 400 jobs

Discount retailer Aldi plans to invest €100m in Ireland over the next three years as it seeks to increase its footprint.
The company aims to add around 20 new stores which will create 400 new jobs.
“Our business model is pretty simple. There’s not a hugely complex strategy. We want to make a store available to everybody in Ireland. Our belief is that by doing that we’ll continue to develop our sales and our market share,” Giles Hurley, the head of the company’s Irish operation, told the Sunday Independent.
Aldi has 11.3pc of Ireland’s intensely competitive grocery market, according to the latest figures from researchers Kantar Worldpanel. That makes it the fifth-largest supermarket in Ireland, 0.1 percentage points behind rival Lidl.
After rapid increases in market share between 2008 and 2014, the company’s growth in that metric slowed somewhat – it has the same percentage of the market as it did in the 12 weeks to March 29 of last year, having dipped as low as 10.3pc in the intervening period. “We’re not really focused on market share as a goal or metric, it’s an outcome of developing our sales,” Hurley said. The value of Aldi’s sales grew 6.6pc year-on-year in the 12 weeks to November 6, 2.4 percentage points ahead of the average figure.
It is set to open new stores in Trim, Co Meath, Leixlip, Co Kildare, and Ennistymon, Co Clare and is looking to secure planning for outlets in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath and Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, Hurley said.
“I’m estimating 20 [new stores] over the next three years which should comfortably mean that we deliver another 400-odd jobs to add to the 3,200 people that we currently employ in the Republic of Ireland.
“There is, I would say, a big opportunity in the big metropolitan areas of Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Cork, where we feel there’s lots of customers who can’t easily access one of our stores.
“Then almost inevitably the question is how big are you going to get, how far are you going to go, and that’s a really difficult one to answer … one of our visions is that every consumer in Ireland can get to an Aldi store within easy reach. So straight off the bat, I’d say comfortably we’d open another 50 stores, and I suspect after that we’ll keep on going.”
Hurley said the company sees itself as a “broad church” retailer that wants to service shoppers seeking value as well as those who want to indulge.

Dublin Retail Q3 2016 update ( Lisney)

Download report here

Here is what Liffey Valley is set to look like after massive face-lift

Here is what Liffey Valley is set to look like after massive face-lift
Plans have been approved for a major expansion at Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, which will include another 22,000 square metres of retail space, a major new civic plaza and a 2,500 seat Olympic-sized indoor ice arena.
Plans also include a major new public space equivalent to a “typical European-scale urban plaza” and a multi-storey carpark.
The ice arena is set to have a capacity for 2.500 spectators and will be capable of hosting international ice skating competitions, ice hockey matches and ice entertainment performances.
 Plans approved include additional 22,000 sq. m. net retail space; a major new civic plaza and a 2,500 seat Olympic-sized indoor ice arena.5 5

Plans approved include additional 22,000 sq. m. net retail space; a major new civic plaza and a 2,500 seat Olympic-sized indoor ice arena.

Photographs released today show a large arena with a screen suspended over the ice. Other snaps from inside the centre show shoppers walking across a bright, spacious area with a large plaza outside.
The plaza has fountain features and trees positioned around the area, as well as seating areas for coffee shops and bistros.
Hines, as asset and development managers, welcomed South Dublin County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for the expansion of the west Dublin shopping centre.
Senior Managing Director of Hines Ireland Brian Moran said: “We are absolutely delighted that planning permission has been granted for the expansion of retail space; a major new civic plaza and a 2,500 seat Olympic-sized indoor ice arena. 
“We now have a visionary plan approved which will redefine Liffey Valley as both a shopping and retail experience and also as a leisure and recreation destination.”

Starbucks to open its first ever drive-through coffee shop in Northern Ireland

Have you ever wished you could get a Starbucks coffee without the hassle of getting out of your car?

Well soon you will be able to as Connswater has signed a deal with coffee house chain Starbucks that will see the company open its first ever drive-through store in Northern Ireland.

The 3,300 sq. ft. store in the east Belfast retail park will open before the end of this year, with construction expected to begin in early October, subject to planning permission.

The news comes as Connswater owner Killultagh Estates confirmed that it intends to invest £200,000 in a transformational landscaping project which will result in significant improvements being made to the connectivity from the Retail Park to the Shopping Centre in conjunction with the Belfast City Council’s Greenway Project.

The landscaping project, which is also subject to planning approval, is due to be completed by January 2017. Its completion will coincide with the opening of grocery retailer Lidl’s multi-million pound expansion at its store in Connswater, which is also scheduled to open in late January.
Laura McCarthy, asset manager for Killultagh, said: “The decision by Starbucks to choose Connswater as its first location in Northern Ireland for a drive-through store demonstrates the confidence that retailers have in the scheme and its strategic location in east Belfast. We are also looking forward to the opening of Lidl’s new 23,000 sq. ft. expanded store early in the New Year.
“With such positive activity taking place we believe that now is the right time to invest in the wider project and to connect our Centre to the work that Belfast City Council is doing as part of the Connswater Community Greenway, with a new urban walk way and pedestrian crossing. We are always striving to improve the shopping experience for our customers and this project will play an important role in that.”

Ireland Retail Sales Rise In November

DUBLIN (Alliance News) – Ireland’s retail sales increased in November after falling in the …

Alliance News6 January, 2016 | 11:18AM Email Form  

DUBLIN (Alliance News) – Ireland’s retail sales increased in November after falling in the previous month, preliminary figures from the Central Statistics Office showed Wednesday.

Retail sales volume rose a seasonally adjusted 2.2% month-over-month in November, reversing a 0.7% decrease in October. In September, sales showed no variations.

On an annual basis, retail sales growth quickened to 9.3% in November from 6.9% in the preceding month.

Excluding motor trades, retail sales volume grew 2.8% over the month and surged 8.9% from November 2014.

Similarly, retail sales value climbed 1.6% monthly in November, in contrast to a 0.9% fall in the prior month. It was the first spike in four months. The annual sales growth accelerated to 5.6% from 3.6%. 


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Wishing all our readers and followers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year  


Selfridges buys Dublin department store Arnotts

Dublin department store Arnotts has been acquired by the Selfridges Group, the high-end UK retailer owned by successful Canadian businessman Galen Weston and his Irish wife Hilary.

Ireland’s largest department store was purchased by Selfridges earlier today for an undisclosed sum from Fitzwilliam Finance Partners, a corporate vehicle set up by Irish lawyer and developer Noel Smyth in 2011 with the intention of acquiring the debts connected with Arnotts and nearby properties on Dublin’s northside.
Arnotts is now part of a portfolio of upmarket department stores owned by the Westons, which incorporates Brown Thomas in Ireland, Selfridges in the UK, Holt Renfrew in Canada and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.
This transaction was part of a wider agreement that saw Fitzwilliam Finance Partners and Wittington Canada – the holding company for the Weston Group, Wittington Properties and Selfridges – acquire loans associated with Arnotts and surrounding properties that were once earmarked for the €750 million Northern Quarter commercial development.
They paid €107 million to acquire the loans held by Ulster Bank and Apollo, a US investment group that had previously acquired the borrowings held by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.
Their purchase of these loans was cleared by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in August, clearing the way for Selfridges to take control of Arnotts with Mr Smyth set to develop the properties.
Selfridges said it would engage with Mr Smyth in relation to his plans for the adjacent properties. Mr Smyth recently announced the closure of the Boyers store on North Earl Street, which had been an offshoot of Arnotts.
Arnotts chief executive Ray Hernan will step down as chief executive to “pursue new opportunities” with Selfridges appointing Donald McDonald as managing director of the business.
Irishman Paul Kelly, who is managing director of the Selfridges Group, has been appointed as chairman of ARHL Retail Holdings Ltd, the parent company of Arnotts.
Commenting on the acquisition, Mr Weston, who is chairman of Selfridges, said: “Our family has been a significant investor in Irish retailing and the wider economy since we acquired Brown Thomas in 1971.”
Mr Kelly said Selfridges was “delighted” to be taking over the management of Arnotts. “Our priority will be to build on the legacy of this great Irish brand and we will look to enhance the customer experience while cherishing Arnotts unique heritage, which has been an essential part of Dublin’s retail landscape for over 170 years,” he said.
Management and staff were informed of the sale earlier today at a series of presentations in the store.
Founded in 1843, Arnotts occupies a prime location on Henry Street, one of the busiest shopping districts in central Dublin.
Its offering comprises womenswear, jewellery, menswear, homeware, beauty, childrenswear and accessories, and the store also has a number of cafés and restaurants within its 267,000 sq ft footprint. In addition, Arnotts has a 350-space car park and an online trading platform.
Selfridges said it was “committed” to investing in establishing Arnotts as the leading department store in Ireland by “enhancing the shopping experience for its customers, upgrading the store environment and introducing new premium brands”.
Arnotts’ accounts for the year to the end of January 2014 show that it had bank debts of €383 million. Some €160 million of this related to the privatisation of the company in 2003 with the balance connected with the purchase of adjoining properties for the Norther Quarter development, which was to have comprised 1.4 million sq feet of retail and commercial space.
This ambitious plan was devised by Arnotts’ previous owner Richard Nesbitt but was scuppered by the Irish banking and property crash in late 2008. 


Lloyds Pharmacy lines up Sam McAuley takeover

According to the Sunday Times, the US-owned Lloyds Pharmacy group is lining up a €40-€50 million takeover of Sam McAuley Chemists. It is one of the largest independently owned pharmacy groups in the country. The McAuley deal would copperfasten Lloyds’ position as the country’s largest pharmacy chain.
The Sunday Times also reports that three directors of Arnotts, including its chairman Nigel Blow, have stepped down from the board. Richard Nesbitt, who was formerly the largest shareholder in Arnotts, and Stephen Haughey, a former chairman of law firm A&L Goodbody, have also left.
Accountancy firm Deloitte has , according to the Sunday Independent, has been hit with a “severe reprimand” and €41,000 penalty according to the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board.
It is the first major disciplinary finding against of the “big four” accountancy firms – PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG – since the regulator was established in 2007.
The Sunday Independent also reports that global commodities company Glencore is considering selling its Limerick zinc mine, Pallas Green, as the company seeks to offload assets and raise cash.
According to the Sunday Business Post, the Government will seek to block a legal action for damages against the State by an unsuccessful bidder for its second mobile phone licence, which Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone won in 1996. Persona is being supported by British company Harbour Litigation, which will be reimbursed if the case is successful. 


Robbins announces plans to develop restaurants across Ireland

Baskin-Robbins, the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, today announced plans to develop restaurants across Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. This effort is part of Dunkin’ Brands’ ongoing strategy to increase its presence across Europe, a key region for the Baskin-Robbins brand, as it continues to grow globally.
Baskin-Robbins is looking to recruit qualified, well-capitalised multi-unit licensee groups with deep retail or foodservice operating experience to develop the brand across Ireland in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford/Wexford and Belfast. The brand is seeking two franchise groups to develop five locations in the Republic of Ireland and three shops in Northern Ireland over the next several years, or a single group for the entire territory. Ideal licensee candidates will have strong financial backgrounds, knowledge of their local consumers and a proven track record of success in the restaurant industry.
“Ireland represents a tremendous opportunity for Baskin-Robbins as we look to continue growing the brand internationally,” said Jeremy Vitaro, vice president of international development for Dunkin’ Brands. “We feel our value proposition – high-quality ice cream, ice cream cakes and frozen beverages, served in a friendly environment and at a great value – will resonate well with consumers throughout Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland.”
Baskin-Robbins has a strong presence globally, with more than 7,500 Baskin-Robbins locations in nearly 50 countries worldwide. The brand currently has over 500 restaurants across Europe, including more than 140 Baskin-Robbins locations in the United Kingdom.

Superdrug to launch its online delivery service in Ireland

Superdrug is poised to launch international shipping from its ecommerce platform, with Ireland the first country set to benefit from the service.
Superdrug to launch its online delivery service in Ireland

From next Wednesday customers in Ireland will be able to shop online at and place orders to be delivered directly to their homes or to one of five Superdrug stores in the country. It marks the first time the health and beauty retailer has offered shipping outside the UK.
Superdrug dubbed the move the “next step” in its Customer 360 multichannel strategy. It follows last year’s investment into a new ecommerce platform and logistics network.
Superdrug said Irish customers will also be able to become members of its rebranded Health & Beautycard, allowing them to qualify for the retailer’s promotions and offers.  
Superdrug marketing director Matt Walburn said: “While we’ve been serving customers in Ireland through our stores for years we’ve never had the ability to offer delivery or an order-and-collect service.
“This move will help us to offer even more customers the best deals and the latest health and beauty products. 
“We opened our first store in Ireland almost a decade ago so we are delighted that this is the first place we’re going to launch international delivery.”

Applegreen IPO raises €91.7m

The sale of shares in Irish service station operator Applegreen has raised €91.7 million in an initial public offering (IPO).

Shares in Applegreen began trading on Friday in a move which has snared €70 million for the company and €21.7 million for its selling shareholders, The Irish Times reports.
Approximately 24.1 million ordinary shares were placed with investors to start trading on Friday (19 June) on the junior ESM market in Dublin and the AIM in London. The placing, which was priced at €3.80, was made up of 18.4 million new shares and 5.7 million sale shares.
Founded and owned by Bob Etchingham and Joe Barrett, Applegreen has said it will use the net proceeds to “accelerate the expansion” of its estate in Ireland and the UK. The company also intends to “upgrade and rebrand a number of existing sites”.
Applegreen currently holds a 12% share of the Irish fuel market and is the number one operator of motorway service stations here. It holds franchises for Subway, Costa Coffee, Burger King and Greggs, among others.
Commenting on the flotation, chief executive Bob Etchingham said: “I am delighted to announce the successful completion of our IPO and our first day of trading as a listed company. We are very pleased with our list of new institutional shareholders. Their support provides further endorsement of our strategy and our growth prospects.”
Applegreen’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation amounted to €22.8 million on revenues of €973.3 million in 2014.
Etchingham and Barrett retain a 69.4% shareholding in Applegreen after the flotation. These shares are held through a company registered in Malta. called B&J Holdings Ltd.

Wishing all our readers a blessed Ramadan Kareem


Tesco execs will have to hand back bonuses in future over misstated results
Tesco’s outgoing chief executive Philip Clarke will remain in situ until October when Unilever’s Dave Lewis is to take over

  Tesco’s former chief executive Philip Clarke was paid £1.2m for loss of office


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25 May 2015 | 0
Tesco has introduced a new ‘clawback’ provision, whereby executive directors could end up having to hand back their bonuses up to five years after they were awarded. The new scheme will come into force if Tesco discovers financial results have been misstated or if executives’ actions damage the company’s reputation in future.
Irish executives subject to the clawback provision include chief operating officer Geoff Byrne, commercial director John Paul O’Reilly, legal director Sarah Gallagher, marketing director Henry Dummer, personnel director Geraldine Casey, corporate affairs director Christine Heffernan, chief financial officer Adrian Lewis and new Tesco Ireland chief executive Andrew Yaxley.
The Sunday Independent reports annual cash bonuses can be recouped by Tesco for up to three years after they were first awarded, while long-term share bonuses could potentially be clawed back for up to five years.
The news comes after Tesco was obliged to pay out upwards of €2m in bonuses to its former group chief executive and group finance director last year. This is despite the fact that the group discovered profits had been overstated by more than €250m.
Former group chief executive Philip Clarke received £1.2m for loss of office, while ex-group finance director Laurie McIlwee was paid £970,880. Tesco attempted to withhold these payments while the investigation into the accounting scandal was ongoing. However the supermarket was contractually obliged to pay up unless it could establish that gross misconduct was at play.
The newspaper also reports that new chief executive Dave Lewis’ annual bonus will be tied to the company’s sales growth, 30% to profit and 20% on the delivery of operational and strategic goals. By contrast, only 18% of Clarke’s yearly bonus was pegged to sales growth.

Musgrave Group agrees sale of Budgens and Londis to Booker

Chris Martin, CEO of Musgrave Group says the grocery market in Great Britain is experiencing fundamental and permanent structural change

Chris Martin, CEO of Musgrave Group says the grocery market in Great Britain is experiencing fundamental and permanent structural change


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21 May 2015 | 0
Musgrave has announced that it will sell its business in the UK which operates the Budgens and Londis brands to Booker for €57 million (£40 million) on a cash free-debt free basis. Completion of the transaction is subject to CMA approval. Budgens and Londis combined have almost 1,800 stores across the UK.
Chris Martin, CEO of Musgrave Group explained the move by outlining the fact that the grocery market in Great Britain is experiencing fundamental and permanent structural change, with intense competition and a deflationary environment. He said: “Given these challenging market dynamics, we carefully evaluated all of the possible options for our GB business. Having received a proposal from Booker, we concluded that a sale to Booker is the right thing for the group and would be the most advantageous outcome for our retailers, colleagues and suppliers in Great Britain. The agreement also includes the development of a strategic partnership with Booker.”
Booker already owns the Premier retail brand in Britain, which has more than 2,900 stores, and the budget Family Shopper brand.
“Booker will be a good fit for retailers and will continue to develop the Budgens and Londis brands utilising the supporting supply chain and head office. Retailers will benefit from Booker’s buying strength, an extensive operational footprint throughout Great Britain including a nationwide distribution and cash and carry infrastructure and a service culture that is proven to meet the needs of independent retailers.”
Martin explained how Musgrave GB has been a loss-making business so the sale will allow the group further develop the business in Ireland and Spain. “While the decision to sell Budgens and Londis is difficult, it will allow the group to drive forward with its growth strategy which is about developing our market-leading retail, convenience and cash and carry brands in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Spain.

  1. “We see the opportunity for growth in the improving Irish economy. To support our growth agenda, Musgrave is developing a strategic partnership with Booker. We will explore opportunities to collaborate on store formats, digital innovation, buying opportunities, sharing of best practice and to achieve cost savings and efficiencies for the business.”

Staffed stunned at closure of Gorey Dunnes Store

Staffed stunned at closure of Gorey Dunnes Store

Staff at Dunnes Stores in Gorey in Wexford are stunned at the decision to close the store, the union Mandate has said.
The union claims more than 100 workers were called to a meeting yesterday evening where it was announced the retailer would close with immediate affect.

Dunnes Stores has yet to comment.

General Secretary of Mandate John Douglas said workers were “clueless” as to their fate.

“It was a bolt out of the blue,” he said. “It’s a modern store in a modern shopping centre. There was no sense that this might happen. It’s deplorable that 100 staff could be sent home and told their jobs are on the line and given no explanation as to what lies for them in the future.” 


Tesco’s Irish arm responsible for profit overstatement of nearly €90m

An overstatement of profits worth £63m (€88m) occurred at Tesco's Irish arm of its business

An overstatement of profits worth £63m (€88m) occurred at Tesco’s Irish arm of its business



27 April 2015 | 0

It has been revealed that an overstatement of profits worth £63m (€88m) at Tesco occurred in the retailer’s Irish arm of its business.

Last September Tesco made the shock announcement that it had overstated profits to the tune of £250m (€347.5m). The majority of this was made up of supplier payments worth €201.5m which had been incorrectly recorded as profits.

In the retailer’s full-year results announced last week, Tesco reported an extra profit adjustment from its treatment of supplier payments of £63m (€88m) to £208m (€289m).

ShelfLife contributor Dan White revealed in the Sunday Independent that Tesco Ireland confirmed that all of this increased profit adjustment occurred in this country, stating: “The additional amount related to income in the Irish business”.

White wrote: “Irish suppliers to Tesco have long complained privately about the payments demanded by the retailer to stock their products. The latest results statement gives the first indication of the extent of these payments. It also seems to show that payments from suppliers to Tesco Ireland are far higher than those demanded by its UK parent.”

Although the original £145m profit overstatement caused by supplier payments amounted to just 0.33% of Tesco’s UK sales, the latest £63m adjustment equals 3.1% of Tesco’s Irish sales.  The Irish profit adjustment is subsequently  proportionately more than nine times greater here compared to the UK. Tesco Ireland said it was “unable to comment further” on the matter.

The news has once again put the spotlight on the grocery sector draft regulations that Jobs and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton has yet to approve.

Topaz introduces new Re.Store concept

Luke Fitzgerald and Vogue Williams present Re.Store, a dynamic new Irish food, coffee and convenience conceptLuke Fitzgerald and Vogue Williams present Re.Store, a dynamic new Irish food, coffee and convenience concept 


24 April 2015 | 0

Re.Store, a new Irish food, coffee and convenience concept has joined forces with Ireland’s leading fuel retailer, Topaz, to provide a new in-store experience.

The concept has launched in over 26 Topaz company-owned sites so far with this number set to swell to 150 branches before the end of 2015 and an investment of over €25 million by the company.

Providing a balanced and nutritious range of fresh, healthy and tasty food for people on-the-go, Re.Store is delivering greater choices in food and coffee at  service stations throughout the country. At Re.Store, the company says the finest beans and superior blends combine with the care and attention of skilled baristas to ensure every cup is made to perfection.

Topaz identified a growing need amongst Irish customers for a fresh, healthy option when on the move. It believes Re.Store meets and exceeds this need, with handcrafted coffees and great-tasting food packed with healthy goodness. The company added that the Re.Store brand delivers “a completely new and innovative approach to forecourt convenience retailing and will revolutionise the standards, quality and the overall customer experience of forecourt dining”.

At the launch, Emmet O’Neill, CEO of Topaz, said: “At Topaz, we are not interested in minor tweaks, we wanted to completely redefine our food and coffee offer that was in keeping with the changing habits and desires of our 2 million weekly customers. This will fundamentally alter the way that people think about service stations.”

O’Neill also stressed the fact that Re.Store uses Irish sourced ingredients and is “an Irish concept delivered by an Irish company”.

High street retail vacancy rates improve across Ireland

Closed shops on Grafton Street in May of last year. Commercial property consultants CBRE reports retail vacancy levels contracted on the capital's prime shopping street over the last six month period from 10.8% to 7.5% in Q1 2014

CBRE reports prime Zone A retail rents on Dublin’s Grafton Street increased to €5,500 per square metre per annum in Q1 2015, while rents elsewhere remained stable over the quarter



20 April 2015 | 0

High street vacancy rates have improved in the majority of  Irish cities and towns monitored by commercial property consultants CBRE over the past six months.

According to CBRE,  in six out of the nine locations surveyed over the last six month period, high street vacancy rates have improved. The property consultants say this result is in stark contrast to this time last year, when rates were moving in the opposite direction. The prime high streets in Belfast and Limerick showed the most significant reduction in ground floor vacancy in the last six months, contracting by between 3% and 4% to stand at 10% and 14% respectively.

Sligo, Athlone and Dublin also showed an improvement in high street occupancy over the period, with the capital’s ground floor vacancy rate now standing at 3.2%. Cork, Killarney and Kilkenny showed an increase in ground floor vacancy between Q3 2014 and Q1 2015, however the agents say they are aware of a number of deals agreed in these locations which should alleviate the vacancy in coming months once signed.

Simon Cooper, senior director in the retail agency department at CBRE said: “It’s encouraging to see an improvement in ground floor vacancy rates across the country as it is not only a sign of the increased occupier activity which we are experiencing but also of local councils and landlords becoming proactive to work towards a solution to double digit vacancy rates in high street locations.”

According to CBRE, prime Zone A retail rents on Dublin’s Grafton Street increased to €5,500 per square metre per annum in Q1 2015, while rents elsewhere remained stable over the quarter. The property consultants in their report also note that 2014 was a strong year for retail investment across the country as over €1 billion was invested in the sector, followed by a further €36 million in Q1 2015. On the back of this strength in investor activity, CBRE that prime retail yields now stand in the order of 4% having contracted by 50 basis points since Q3 2014.

High Street Vacancy Rates Q1 2015 v Q3 2014 – Source: CBRE



Further strike action planned at Dunnes

Mandate has said that a group of 100 shop stewards will meet within the next fortnight to set a date for further industrial action

Mandate has said that a group of 100 shop stewards will meet within the next fortnight to set a date for further industrial actionNews

Dunnes Stores workers who belong to Mandate trade union are to set a date for further industrial action within the next two weeks.

The move follows a meeting of the union’s National Disputes Committee held earlier today (13 April).Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light said members were angered that Dunnes had not yet agreed to come to the table and are subsequently set to escalate their campaign.

Within the next fortnight, a meeting of approximately 100 shop stewards will set a date for when further industrial action will be held.

The possibility of holding a public event such as march or protest to highlight their campaign will also be discussed.

John Douglas, Mandate general secretary, said the union is not ruling out legal action on behalf of Dunnes workers who have been dismissed or demoted. Mandate could therefore potentially take individual cases on behalf of employees who have been allegedly victimised by Dunnes management for participating in the strike on 2 April.

SuperValu new number one supermarket

The latest supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel in Ireland, published today for the 12 weeks ending 29 March, show a change at the top with SuperValu becoming Ireland’s largest grocery retailer.

David Berry, director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “One of the key rules in driving sales growth is that you need to broaden your appeal to attract new consumers to your brand.  SuperValu has consistently achieved this with eighteen consecutive periods of footfall growth increasing its shopper numbers by 63,000.  Undoubtedly one of the key milestones in helping SuperValu move to the top of the pile was the acquisition of the Superquinn business in July 2011.  Rebranding the 24 Superquinn stores under the SuperValu banner in February 2014 led to an immediate jump in market share from 20% to 25.1%.  More importantly, SuperValu’s performance within Dublin improved dramatically as its market share more than doubled from 9.5% to 22.2% today.”

Tesco’s story is one of mixed performance.  Sales are down year on year and as a result market share has dipped from 25.9% to 24.7%.  While Tesco will be disappointed to have lost its number one position, there are some positive signs for the retailer.  It has not lost shoppers since this time last year and its customers are making the same number of shopping trips with increased average basket sizes – the most positive results for these metrics in more than two years.  This points to an interesting battle over the coming months as SuperValu looks to remain in the top spot while Tesco aims to regain its advantage.

Dunnes has continued to enjoy healthy growth, with a 4.9% sales increase improving its market share to 22.7%.  This has been fuelled by larger baskets, with two additional items included in each average trip, and can be linked to the retailer’s ‘Shop and Save’ voucher campaign which incentivised shoppers to spend more on each visit.  The performance of both Aldi and Lidl has remained impressive with sales growth of 11.1% and 9.7% respectively.  Aldi has successfully recruited new shoppers to its stores, while Lidl shoppers are returning to the retailer more often.

SuperValu response

SuperValu has thanked its customers for their support, following today’s announcement from Kantar Worldpanel. Earlier this year, the brand announced it had reached its highest ever sales total in 2014 after recording sales of €2.58 billion. This follows the growth of SuperValu by 30% over a ten year period.

Martin Kelleher, SuperValu managing director, said the feat is “even more important when you bear in mind that SuperValu is a brand that is essentially made up of independent retailers from across the country”.

Kelleher said the group had achieved the top spot by focusing on three key areas; providing best quality Irish food; delivering “unrivalled expertise” through its people; supporting communities, charitable causes and initiatives like TidyTowns and putting money back into the local economy through its independent retail model.

“Local ownership is one of our unique selling points: the fact that our stores are operated by people from the local community, the store owner knows his or her customers and what they want,” said Kelleher.

SuperValu is planning to open four new stores in the year ahead and continue to invest in refurbishing its store network, adding 280 employees to the SuperValu group in the process

The worlds 50 greatest leaders 2015

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Tesco Ireland appoints new CEO

Tesco Ireland appoints new CEO

Andrew Yaxley, new Tesco Ireland CEO

Andrew Yaxley, new Tesco Ireland CEO


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25 March 2015 | 0

Phil J Clarke is retiring in April

Phil J Clarke is retiring in April

Andrew Yaxley has been announced as the new CEO of Tesco Ireland. Yaxley (47) is currently the managing director of Tesco’s London business. Prior to that he held a number of positions in the commercial function as a member of the UK leadership team leading the Fresh and Packaged Food Divisions, and the Commercial business in Slovakia and Czech Republic.

He succeeds Phil J Clarke,  who has held the position of chief executive of Tesco Ireland for the past two years and will retire in April.

According to Dave Lewis, Group CEO, Clarke has had an exemplary career with Tesco.

“Phil joined Tesco as a 15 year old in 1974, became a store manager at 20, and rose to take on several of our most important international roles including CEO of our businesses in Slovakia and Czech Republic, Japan and more recently in Ireland. Over the last two years, despite challenging market circumstances, Phil has worked tirelessly to make Tesco Ireland a stronger business and I thank him for all his work. Phil will be succeeded by Andrew Yaxley, who has shown outstanding leadership and delivered an improved business performance in London over the last two years as Managing Director.”

On his retirement Clarke said: “I could not have asked for a better way to end what has been a long and rewarding career in Tesco than having the opportunity to spend two years as CEO in Ireland.  Having guided the company through a challenging time, the business is fundamentally stronger with clearer value offers, an improved fresh food offering and a really compelling community agenda. I believe that now is the right time to hand over responsibility and that Andrew is absolutely the right person to lead Tesco Ireland forward. I wish him the very best in his new role.”

Yaxley joined Tesco in 2001 having previously worked for Mars.  He is from Derbyshire.

Dubai Duty Free is named title sponsor of Irish Open golf tournament

McIlroy is set to be joined by many of world golf’s big names, with Rickie Fowler, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood already confirmed to join Ireland’s golfing superstars McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Ryder Cup Captain Darren Clarke. 

McIlroy said: “It’s great news that Dubai Duty Free has come on board as the title sponsor for this year’s Irish Open. Dubai Duty Free is a strong global brand with great experience in sports sponsorship through golf, tennis and horse racing. The European Tour and I both have strong links to Dubai, and I am sure Dubai Duty Free will bring a lot to the event and add to its already great prestige.” 

One of the world’s leading airport retailers with a turnover of US$1.9 billion in 2014, Dubai Duty Free is already associated with The European Tour as sponsors of the DP World Tour Championship and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, won at the Emirates Golf Club this year by McIlroy. 

Dubai Duty Free’s golf portfolio also includes the Dubai Ladies Masters, as well as a series of high-profile events including the annual Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup, Dubai Duty Free UAE Nationals Cup, Dubai Duty Free Golf Cup and Dubai Irish Golf Society tournament. 

The retailer has many other connections to sport. Dubai Duty Free owns and stages the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which reaches a global audience of over 400 million TV viewers and generates media exposure of US$718 million. A keen supporter of horseracing, the operation is probably best known in Ireland for its sponsorship of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, one of Ireland’s most prestigious races which is held at the Curragh Racecourse in June. This year marks the 150th running of the historic race. The company also sponsors the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot and Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials and Dubai Duty Free International Raceday at Newbury. 

Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin said: “Sports sponsorship plays a huge role in our overall marketing strategy, it fosters goodwill and allows our brand to travel all around the globe. 

“We are delighted to become the title sponsor of the Irish Open hosted by The Rory Foundation. The tournament has a tremendous history and is the flagship golf event in Ireland providing thrilling golfing action for spectators, golf fans and television viewers around the world. This year’s tournament features a fantastic line up and we are very much looking forward to working with Rory McIlroy and his Foundation, The European Tour, Tourism Northern Ireland and the members and management of Royal County Down on this prestigious sporting event.” 

Northern Ireland’s Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster: said: “I welcome the announcement that Dubai Duty Free is to become title sponsor of the Irish Open. The partnership with Dubai Duty Free will further raise the profile of the tournament when it takes place in Northern Ireland this year, and again in 2017, and will help to increase our reputation as a fantastic golfing destination. This sponsorship announcement is further proof that we are establishing Northern Ireland as the home of great events with which world class brands wish to be associated.” 

The European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady said: “We are delighted to welcome Dubai Duty Free as a title sponsor on The European Tour and look forward to expanding our partnership with another powerful global brand which has vast experience in the sports sponsorship market. 

“By becoming the title sponsor to the Irish Open, Dubai Duty Free is making its mark on golf’s world stage and further showcasing the close collaboration that exists between so many of Dubai’s leading companies and The European Tour. With many of the game’s biggest names competing on the iconic links of Royal County Down, we believe the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by The Rory Foundation will deliver superb value to Dubai Duty Free and all of our event partners.” 

More than 80,000 spectators are expected and tens of thousands of tickets have already been sold for the event, which is supported by Tourism Northern Ireland. 

Dunnes Stores staff vote for industrial action

Dunnes has 112 branches across the Republic of Ireland with more than 10,000 workersThe majority of Dunnes Stores staff have voted for industrial action over work contracts and pay conditions.

Members of Mandate Trade Union voted with a majority of 67% in favour of the industrial action on 6 March.

Gerry Light, Mandate’s assistant general secretary said the nature and timing of industrial action will take place within the following week.

Dunnes Stores workers have been involved in a long-running dispute with the company over the issue of zero hour contracts, fair pay and the right of representation for Dunnes Stores staff.

Mandate said that banded hour contracts would give staff much-needed security. With banded hours, employees would be guaranteed a minimum number of hours of work each, which would enable them to apply for loans or mortgages.

Dunnes Stores worker Cathy McLoughlin told the Irish Times that the management continues to refuse to enter into discussions with staff through their union, and says they won’t even go to the Labour Court to address their issues. She said: “None of us want to go on strike because we really can’t afford it, but what other option have we got? Our employer can stop the strike by simply agreeing to meet our union and we don’t feel that’s an unreasonable request.

“All we’re really asking is to be treated the same as workers in other retail outlets like Tesco, Penneys and SuperValu who have secure hours and a right to be represented by their union.”

Last year, the Labour Court urged the company and the union to meet to resolve their differences. However Dunnes has still refused to enter into direct discussions with the union on any matter.

Dunnes Stores said at a time when the retail industry was fighting for survival, staff in the company had received two pay increases while it had also maintained employment levels.

Dunnes has 112 branches across the Republic of Ireland with more than 10,000 workers – 4,000 of which are represented by the union.

SuperValu records €2.58 billion in sales in 2014

SuperValu has announced that it recorded retail sales of €2.58 billion in 2014. The Musgrave Group says this represents a new milestone for the brand, following the addition of 24 former Superquinn stores to the business in February 2014. As a result, SuperValu now holds 24.9% market share and serves over 2.6 million customers every week.

SuperValu plans to invest €18 million in opening four new stores in 2015, which will add 280 jobs to the SuperValu network. Some of the locations will include Athlone and Kilcock. Together with its retail partners, SuperValu employs approximately 14,500 colleagues, making it one of the State’s largest private sector employers.

Commenting at the SuperValu national conference in Killarney today, Martin Kelleher, managing director of SuperValu, said: “We are satisfied with our current trading performance, having finished the year well with a good Christmas trading period.”

“We will continue to drive the momentum behind SuperValu into 2015 through our food leadership programme, commitment to local suppliers through initiatives like Food Academy, and exceptional value through quality own brand products and promotions.”

“Quality is where SuperValu really stands out,” he added, noting that its butcher counters have 100% fresh Irish meat. “The fact that the majority of our stores are independently owned means that our retail partners can source local products that you simply won’t find on shelves anywhere else. We have really leveraged this over the past year through the Food Academy programme, helping over two hundred small Irish suppliers gain their first listing with a grocery retailer.”

One of the major achievements by SuperValu in 2014 was the establishment of the Food Academy programme, which is a joint initiative between SuperValu, Bord Bia, the Local Enterprise Office Network to support small food companies in Ireland.

In total, 200 small food producers supported by the Food Academy will generate sales worth €10 million with SuperValu in 2015. Thirty high performing small food companies have also graduated to Food Academy Advance, the next stage of the programme, to allow them to scale up and secure national listings with SuperValu.


US fashion label Michael Kors to open Belfast shop

US fashion designer Michael Kors is opening a shop in Belfast’s Victoria Square Shopping Centre – just as record-low inflation leaves consumers with more cash to spend.

Not since Elvis was in the charts has our disposable income stretched so far, and with the improved spending power comes the prospect of indulging one of our favourite pastimes: shopping.

The New York label with a familiar MK monogram has become a popular appendage hanging from fashionistas’ handbags and emblazoned across their wristwatches.

The city centre fashion and accessories store will be its second in Ireland, following their debut venture in Dublin.

Criona Collins, director of retail at Lambert Smith Hampton, said new investments reflected a wider, upward trend in consumer confidence as well as a vote of confidence in Northern Ireland itself.

“After everything we’ve gone through here, in terms of the worst recession and our own internal turmoil in Northern Ireland, we are seeing the first glimmers of hope and retailers being encouraged to invest here,” Ms Collins said.

She described the recent investments by the likes of Swarovski jewellers, YO! Sushi restaurant and Goldsmith’s Boutique in Victoria Square as a “reflection of the optimism in the marketplace”.

“It’s a really good barometer because two or three years ago we wouldn’t have been in such a comfortable position for them, when there was still too much fragility in the market.

“Now that there’s been a period of stability, and with inflation rates remaining low, this is a sign of growing optimism. There’s still a bit of fragility but growth is slow and steady and safe and not spiralling out of control,” she said.

Karise Hutchinson, head of the enterprise and business department at the University of Ulster, said shrewd retailers like Michael Kors knew their customers also had high expectations.

“It is no longer purely a transactional experience, but consumers expect an inspirational and motivational experience.”

Belfast FashionWeek director Cathy Martin also welcomed the news of Michael Kors’ impending arrival but said existing suppliers could be affected by the move.

“Any addition to the fashion landscape is always a good thing in terms of customer choice,” she said. “We do already have a number of independently-owned stores who stock Michael Kors products, so I am sorry for them that this store will offer competition, but there are always new brands and designers’ collections to source to keep the offer fresh for everyone.”

News of Victoria Square’s new tenant comes after shopping footfall here fell 2.4% in January.


Gerry Weber appoints founder’s son as chief executive

German womenswear brand Gerry Weber has appointed the founder’s son Ralf Weber as its new chief executive.

Weber, whose father is Gerhard Weber, will take up his new role on 25 February.

Having joined the Gerry Weber board in 2013, Weber is currently responsible for sales and corporate development and will now take on additional duties in his role as chief executive.

He will succeed David Frink who will step down from the chief executive role but will continue to focus on finance, logistics, IT and administration.

The position of the third board member, who is Arnd Buchardt, will remain unchanged. Buchardt will retain responsibility for products, brands and licenses.

Last month, Gerry Weber announced plans to acquire fashion group Hallhuber as part of its expansion strategy.


Dunnes Store staff to ballot over industrial action

Dunes Stores workers are set to ballot over the coming weeks for industrial action due to issues over their working conditions.

Mandate, the trade union representing 40% of Dunnes 15,000 workers said the balloting process will take place in a few weeks and it will decide whether strike action will prevail.

The union said that this action is needed because the company failed to put last year’s Labour Court Recommendations in place, which were that the company would discuss the workers grievances with them.

The company has been criticised for using temporary and zero hour contracts and approximately three quarters of staff are on part-time flexible contracts. This leaves employees in an extremely vulnerable position as they cannot predict how much they will earn each month yet they are still expected to be available for work. It also makes it difficult for them to get mortgage or loan approval.

Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light told the Irish Times: “The combination of low pay and flexible hours means that many Dunnes workers cannot afford to provide a basic standard of living for themselves and their dependents. Many of our members cannot access mortgages or loans because of insecurity of hours due to low-hour contracts. Dunnes workers want to have their right to trade union representation vindicated, particularly when it comes to disciplinaries and collective bargaining. Key to all of this is the fact they don’t feel respected by their employer”.

A final decision on strikes will come after all members are polled in the coming weeks.

Read more:


Starbucks to open first Cork city centre store

GLOBAL coffee giant, Starbucks, is to open its first Cork City centre store, at no 39 Princes Street, a few doors away from the famed English Market.

The Seattle-based coffee house and retail chain has 21,000 outlets, in 68 countries, the latest being Vietnam and Colombia.

It opened in the UK in 1998, and now has 800 stores there. Starbucks first came to Ireland in 2005, opening in the Dundrum Town Centre. It later opened on Dublin’s College Green, and has expanded slowly since in Ireland. It had a concession in Cork Airport for several years, and has a presence in UCC — but, until now, has not had a Cork City centre foot-hold.

It’s understood to be still looking for several other Cork premises, although reports it would commit to the One Albert Quay office building, now under construction, have been dismissed.

However, Starbucks has committed to no 39 Princes Street, a double-fronted traditional shop close to the English Market’s arched, red-brick entrance.

It’s one of several, new food-related users on this busy pedestrian street, which links Oliver Plunkett Street to Patrick Street. It’s next door to the highly successful fresh salads, juices and coffee seller, Rocketman, which is run by local man, Jack Crotty, and is across the street from Sean Calder Potts’ food emporium, Iago’s, which relocated last year from the English Market.

Also arrived on Princes Street during 2014 were The Body Shop (in a corner building, since sold as an investment), and facing the Irish Examiner/Evening Echo’s public shop on the other corner with Oliver Plunkett Street, and JoJo Maman Bebe.

Already on this stretch of Princes Street are Fat Face, Ann Summers, Cummins Sports, Murphy Electrical and several shoe shops and fashion retailers, among other traders.

No 39 is next door to the historic Unitarian Church, for which plans have been drafted to make it more publicly accessible and to link it to the English Market to the rear.

(Meanwhile, agents Savills are close to finalising a deal on the former Capitol cinema site on Grand Parade, which stretches back to Patrick Street, and further links between that site and the English Market may be exploited in the site’s redevelopment).

Of Starbucks’s arrival in town, Lisney director Margaret Kelleher said “there was significant interest in the property, from fashion, accessories and footwear users. Starbucks really liked the shape of the building and its quirks, and were very pleased to locate on pedestrianised Princes Street.”

No 39 has been vacated by Kerry-based fashion retailer, Parafin, and previously had been occupied by Enable Ireland. In even earlier times, it had been a delicatessen, and a coffee shop.

Recently refurbished, no 39 has a surprising 1,660 sq ft, thanks to a long rear section, and rent sought had been in the order of €55,000 pa, and it’s understood a sum close to that was agreed.

As a matter of ‘storm in a coffee-cup’ Starbucks coincidence, the coffee chain’s name came from the character Starbuck, first mate on the ship Moby Dick in the 1851 novel by Herman Melville. The acclaimed 1956 movie version of Moby Dick was filmed in Youghal, Co Cork, by John Huston, starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, with Leo Genn as Starbuck.


Wishing all our readers and followers a Happy New Year

All the best for 2015


Zara owner to open new Irish stores as retail recovers

giant that owns the Zara group, says it plans to open more Irish stores when it finds suitable outlets.

The group, which has global sales of about €17 billion, recently filed accounts for a number of its Irish operations, including Zara, youth fashion outlets Bershka and Stradivarius, Pull & Bear and the mid-market Massimo Dutti.

Inditex’s retail brands here all had flat or slightly lower sales in the year to the end of January, with the cost of store revamps hitting profits.

The group says it will open “stores as soon as suitable opportunities arise” to capitalise on the nascent retail recovery.

Inditex is known to have retained property consultants to find new locations in Ireland, including Dublin and Cork.

Za Clothing, the main Inditex company here that operates the nine Zara stores, had flat revenues in the year of about €56.7 million. Its net profits fell from €5.3 million to just over €3 million. The company, which has 31 Irish staff, paid a €3.3 million dividend to its Spanish parent.

Bershka, the youth fashion group that operates four stores in Dublin and one in Cork, accounts for 10 per cent of Inditex’s sales worldwide. Its sales in the year to the end of January slipped by €1 million from €10.2 million, while it more than tripled its Irish losses to €1.2 million.


Pull & Bear, Inditex’s brand that operates stores on Henry Street and in Dundrum, held sales at about €5.5 million but made a loss of €776,000. The Stradivarius brand, which operates in Dublin and Newbridge, made a loss of €234,000 from its two stores.

Massimo Dutti, which opened a store on Grafton Street in January to add to its Dundrum outlet, increased sales slightly to €4.5 million.

Overall, the Inditex group’s Irish retail outlets had combined sales of almost €80 million.

Inditex also operates its internet sales operation using an Irish company, ITX Fashion, which handles orders for Europe, Japan and the US.

It had revenues of €325 million in the year to the end of January, up from €307 million. The company made a net profit of €45 million, up 10 per cent on the previous year.

ITX Fashion, which has 21 staff, has retained earnings of €107 million and is sitting on a cash pile of €88 million. The company, which is owned by the Dutch arm of Inditex, paid about €6.5 million in Irish corporation tax last year.


Dunnes Stores profits tumble 13pc at UK division as sales decline

giant Dunnes Stores fell 13pc to £13.8m (€17.6m) last year after a slump in revenues.

Accounts just lodged by Dunnes Stores (Bangor) in the UK show the firm sustained the drop in profits as revenues decreased 11pc to £140.52m in the 12 months to the end of February 1 this year.

The firm paid dividends of £470,000 last year to Irish-based parent, Dunnes Stores (Henry Street). The firm’s profits narrowed after its gross profit margin last year fell from 38.28pc to 37.84pc.

The Newry-registered firm’s revenues are generated in Britain and Northern Ireland with Dunnes operating 34 stores in Britain and Northern Ireland, broken down between 23 in Northern Ireland, six in England and five in Scotland.

The accounts offer the only insight into the finances of the family-owned business as Dunnes Stores has unlimited status in Ireland and is not required to file annual accounts to the CRO.

Numbers employed by the UK arm last year fell from 1,944 to 1,724. Dunnes Stores is the third largest player in the Irish grocery market with a market share of 22.7pc according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

The UK firm’s accumulated profits stood at £317m with its cash more than tripling from £28.98m to £104.16m. Staff costs reduced by 7pc from £18.89m to £17.58m.


Insights: Top 10 retail predictions for 2015

Framingham, Mass. — By 2017, three times as many retailers as now will explicitly underpin their customer and operations strategies on 3rd platform technologies. That’s one of IDC Retail Insights’ top 10 worldwide retail predictions for 2015. IDC revealed the predictions during a Web conference, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Retail Agenda 2015 Predictions.

The top 10 predictions from the IDC FutureScape for Worldwide Retail FutureScape are:

1. By 2017, three times as many retailers as now will explicitly pin their customer and operations strategies on 3rd platform technologies.

2. In 2015, CIOs will invest in omni-channel integration technologies as a top priority to support growth in the omni-channel shopper sales premium of 30%.

3. Over the next three years, half of CIOs across the top 250 retailers will adopt omni-channel IT governance fit for a 3rd platform era to combat shadow IT.

4. By 2016, the top 150 retailers will improve their return on investment (ROI) on hyper-personal loyalty based on unified customer engagement.

5. By 2018, 60% of omni-channel retailers will have launched customer mobile payment initiatives to enhance existing ecommerce, loyalty, and in-store mobile point of sale (MPOS) investments.

6. As cyber attacks increase, 50% of the top 250 retailers will have reduced exposure and loss by more than 50% by the end of 2016 with intelligent sense and respond security strategies.

7. By the end 2016, product intelligence (PI) will inform 80% of the top ten e-commerce retailers’ pricing decisions and drive mainstream adoption of high-velocity pricing.

8. By 2018, on demand socially networked delivery services (including Uber, EBay Now, Shutl, Deliv, Postmates, Instacart, Amazon, and Alibaba) will perform 90% of all intra-day direct-to-consumer deliveries.

9. By the end of 2015, at least 25 retailers with location-based services will increase same shopper sales impacted by location-based services (LBS) by 5% via analytics-driven agile engagement and operations.

10. By 2016, even as private brand growth flattens in the U.S., consumer driven private brand product innovation will drive a 10% improvement in customer visit frequency.

“Relentless technology innovation underpins consumers’ participatory behavior and expectations,” said Leslie Hand, VP of IDC Retail Insights. “The most successful retailers will find opportunities by putting mobility, analytics, cloud, and social to work in their customer and operations strategies, adopting omni-channel integration technologies and IT governance, unifying customer engagement for hyper-personalized loyalty, adopting product intelligence for marketing and competitive insight, employing location-based services via analytics driven agile engagement and operations, utilize socially-networked on-demand delivery services, and gain share with private label merchandise.”


International Retail Franchising Summit, March 11th 2015, Olympia London

more information click here


The ‘best-performing’ retail CEOs in the world

While retail can get swept up in the newest cross-channel strategy and payment technologies, it’s a company’s long-term vision that ultimately determines longevity in this sometimes volatile sector.

Harvard Business Review recently released its annual list of the 100 best-performing CEOs in the world, assessing the heads of companies in the S&P Global 1200 by the end of 2013. A group of researchers determined the increase in total shareholder return and market capitalization for each CEO’s tenure. Eight retail CEOs made the cut, with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos taking the top spot.

Who else made the list? Read on to find out.

Jeff Bezos

Company: Amazon

Rank: 1

Bezos long-term performance nabbed him the top spot on the list, and the distinction as the only retail CEO in the top ten. Despite ongoing disputes with publishers and a net loss in Q3, Bezos’ strategic vision for Amazon has consistently provided shareholders with results.

Tadashi Yanai

Company: Fast Retailing

Rank: 11

As Asia’s largest apparel company, Fast Retailing is now looking to expand to the United States with new locations for its Uniqlo brand. It doesn’t stop there: Founder and CEO Yanai has widely expressed his desire to surpass H&M and Inditex (owner of Zara) as the largest clothing company in the world.

Michael Balmuth

Company: Ross Stores

Rank: 25

As CEO of Ross Stores for 16 years, Balmuth stepped down from the chief executive spot this June. He is still actively involved with the company as executive chairman, and will no doubt have a hand in the opening of 95 new Ross Dress for Less and dd’s Discounts stores.

Simon Wolfson

Company: Next

Rank: 43

Although less of a name in the U.S., Simon Wolfson took the top dog spot at British retailer Next in 2001 after starting at the company in 1991 as a sales assistant. Since then, he has helped the retailer expand its Next Home business and Next Directory online catalog, yielding over-performing share prices that have topped competitors like Marks & Spencer.

Carol Mayrowitz

Company: TJX

Rank: 51

One of only two women on the list, Mayrowitz became CEO of TJX, parent company of T.J. Maxx, Homegoods and Marshalls, in 2007. Since then, the company’s revenue has increased from $16 billion in 2007 to $27 billion in 2013. But the growth doesn’t stop there. TJX plans to expand its store base by 50%, with upwards of 5,000 new stores in existing markets.

Blake Nordstrom

Company: Nordstrom

Rank: 54 (tie)

Part of the fourth generation of Nordstrom family leadership, CEO Blake Nordstrom has been with the company since 1975 in various management and sales positions. The company continues to be a favorite for its customer service, and will continue to expand that service via text with the help of Twilio.

Terry Lundgren

Company: Macy’s

Rank: 66 (tie)

Even with the loss of the title of president in March, Lundgren still holds the positions of chairman, CEO, and chief customer officer at Macy’s, Inc. Previously CEO of Neiman Marcus, Lundgren has led Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s through many onmichannel initiatives that have helped the retailer increase sales and profits.

Michael Kowalaski

Company: Tiffany & Company

Rank: 92

Kowalaski has been with the iconic Tiffany & Co. since 1983, taking the title of CEO in 1999. He will step down March 31, 2015, to be replaced by Frederic Cumenal, currently president of the jewelry retailer.


Outlook for the Irish retail sector remains positive

The availability of retail space in prime locations continues to tighten, with some prime shopping centre schemes operating at 90-100% capacity and just 2.6% high street vacancy in Dublin city centre. Demand from overseas retailers remains strong as they continue to look to expand their operations in Ireland, but they are mostly focused on prime locations. In the last 3 months, we have seen evidence of demand broadening, with the location and sector type for lettings more mixed this quarter. There have been a number of high street, shopping centre and retail park deals signed in Q3. The interest in prime retail warehouse parks has picked up in response to people spending more again on their homes.

Hannah Dwyer, Head of Research at JLL said that „There has been no real change in the retail market in the last 3 months, with similar key trends to last quarter. The market continues to show stability, particularly in prime locations, with steady demand from occupiers, decreasing vacancies and positivity in turnover results“.

Hannah also added that, „The outlook for the final quarter of 2014 and for next year remains positive. Signs of stability in the retail park market have broadened the sector’s recovery, with high streets, shopping centres and retail parks now performing much more steadily than 12 months ago. Although there has been minimum rental growth this year, prime rents are expected to increase in the short-term as supply pressures continue to tighten on high streets and in schemes“.

The recovery remains most evident for prime, with some secondary and tertiary schemes and units struggling around the country. Positive news stories for the economy around GDP and employment have boosted confidence, with improvements in sentiment and retail sales volumes positively impacting turnover results for some retailers. This is expected to continue into 2015 as key economic indicators are forecast further growth.


Dubai Duty Free’s Colm McLoughlin to receive prestigious Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award

UAE/IRELAND. In major news, Dubai Duty Free’s Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin has been named a recipient of the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Awards 2014 for the Irish abroad.

The accolade makes him one of a select group of people – and the first Irish person living in the UAE – to be recognised by the Irish government for outstanding contribution to Irish business and communities abroad.

The Presidential Distinguished Service Awards were introduced by the Irish government in 2012 with the aim of recognising persons living abroad who have given sustained and distinguished service in key areas such as business, education, community, arts and culture, sport, charitable works and peace.

Colm McLoughlin has been nominated in the category of Business and Education, while his support of the Irish community in the UAE is also acknowledged.

The ten recipients of the 2014 awards were announced yesterday by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan T.D., who is on an official visit to the USA.

The Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, will present the ten awardees of the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards at an official ceremony to be held later this month at Aras an Uchtarain, the official presidential residence in Dublin.

Minister Flanagan noted: “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these remarkable people for what they have individually contributed to Ireland, to the Irish abroad and our international reputation.”

Following the news of his nomination, Colm McLoughlin said: “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to be selected for this award. Although it is designated as a personal award, I recognise that it belongs equally to many Irish people in the UAE, both past and present, who have supported the Irish community here. I am also delighted that the UAE is being recognised in this way.”

Colm McLoughlin arrived in Dubai in July 1983 and was part of a ten-man team from Aer Rianta, the Irish airport authority, who established Dubai Duty Free on behalf of the Government of Dubai.

He remained on as head of the operation and has been the driving force behind establishing Dubai Duty Free as a US$1.8 billion business with a global reputation. The Irish Village, which is part of Dubai Duty Free’s leisure division, is also hugely successful and employs 22 Irish staff.

Over the past three decades, McLoughlin has been an integral part of the Irish community in the UAE and as a result of his success as a business leader, he has greatly enhanced the reputation of Ireland and the Irish in the UAE.

Commenting on the major contribution made by the Irish diaspora over the years, Minister Jimmy Deenihan T.D., the newly appointed Minister for Diaspora Affairs added: “These ten people show the remarkable diversity of Ireland’s reach in the world. For the first time, there are awardees from the UAE, Korea and Russia, in addition to the more expected locations of Britain, the US, Canada and Australia.

“The nominations are made in different categories, but there is enormous overlap. For example, Colm McLoughlin is, deservedly, nominated for his business successes, and using that success to support Ireland’s reputation; but he is equally an unstinting supporter of the Irish community in Dubai. I want to congratulate them all and look forward to meeting them when they come over to Ireland.”

The Irish Ambassador to the UAE, Patrick Hennessy, said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to Colm McLoughlin, who is the first Irish person in the UAE to receive this Presidential Distinguished Service Award.

“During his time in the region, Colm has been hugely important in helping to increase business ties between the UAE and Ireland and has always been readily available to visiting delegations, including the large trade delegation led by An Taoiseach which visited in January this year.”


Wishing all our followers a blessed EID MUBARAK


Edgars targets $4,7m profit – Zimbabwe

Harare – Listed clothing retailer Edgars Stores Limited (Edgars) is targeting a 193 percent growth in profit to $4, 7 million in the 2014 financial year.

The group recorded a $1, 6 million profit in the half year to July.

During the six months, its performance was significantly affected by an acute liquidity crisis, sluggish economic growth, company closures and price- based competition in the cash market resulting in the company recording a turnover of $29,5 million, lower than projected. However, the group’s chair Themba Sibanda said they expected the trend to “change by year end as trading has picked up since April and the group expects to see positive bottom line growth for the year”.

He said they expected to register $70 million turnover in the full year on the back of anticipated increase in demand in the festive season.

In the 26 weeks to July, the clothing manufacturer opened two new stores — in Victoria Falls and downtown Harare — bringing the total number of Edgars branches to 28 from 24 in July 2013.


UK retailer to open six more Dealz stores in Republic of Ireland

UK-listed retailer Poundland is planning to open six new Dealz stores in Ireland over the next year, chief executive Jim McCarthy has told The Irish Times.

“The plan is to add six additional shops in the next 12 months but we might actually add to that,” Mr McCarthy said. “We’ve got a lot of growth to come.”

The new openings will bring to 41 the number of shops in the Republic for Dealz, which opened here three years ago this month with stores in Blanchardstown and Portlaoise.

The group’s revenues from the Republic amounted to £55 million for the year to the end of March 2014.


Mr McCarthy said Poundland had pencilled in 70 stores into its expansion plans for the Republic. “Internally, our target is 70 but Javelin, our consultants, say that 100 can be done.”
The Poundland chief executive said it would also consider establishing a distribution centre here at some point in the future. “There’s not enough critical mass just yet but, as we continue to grow, it will make us think very hard about setting up a distribution centre.”

Dealz opened its 34th store in Wexford last week with Mr McCarthy reporting that it attracted 3,000 customers on its first day.

To date, the UK company has invested €53.6 million in its Irish network with about €4.5 million being spent this year on its expansion. It attracts about 200,000 customers a week to its Irish stores.

New brand

Dealz was a new brand launched here by Poundland, targeted at the value end of the retail market. Most of its products are branded and are sold for €1.49. In the UK, most of its products sell at £1.
Mr McCarthy said the average spend by Irish shoppers in its Dealz outlets amounts to £6 per transaction. By comparison, UK consumers spend £4.50 on average in Poundland stores.

Why the difference?

“There’s a couple of things. We’ve got a new brand in Ireland and I think there’s probably a bigger value difference in Ireland than in the UK, where there’s more competition.”

Mr McCarthy acknowledged that there are some “green shoots” of recovery in the Irish economy but doesn’t expect it to hinder the company’s growth.

“I think habits have been acquired [in the downturn] by consumers and those will continue. All the figures indicate that people like value and they’re supporting companies like ourselves, Aldi, Lidl and Primark.”


Dundrum Town Centre set for €1bn Nama sale

The country’s most successful shopping centre will be put up for sale with a price tag of up to €1bn, sources say, with bids expected from Asian sovereign wealth funds.

Bad bank Nama will initiate the sale of Dundrum Town Centre as early as next month, the people said, after it gained full control of the retail hub in April. Nama inherited vast debts attached to it from AIB and Anglo, who loaned hundreds of millions to developer Joe O’Reilly.

The 150,000 square foot property will probably sell for around €1bn, property experts predict. A previous valuation of the landmark mall had pegged its worth at closer to €700m prior to a receovery in the market.

The shopping centre’s tenants generate a retail income of €50m a year, meaning its new owners can expect a return of around 5pc a year. Opened in 2005, it has an annual footfall of 19m.

“There is a huge amount of appetite for retail assets right now,” said Marie Hunt, head of research at CBRE Ireland. “Particularly since so few of these assets have been put up for sale since 2007.”

Just two major retail developments have been sold since the start of the financial crisis. These are Liffey Valley Shopping Centre in west Dublin, which HSBC and international property fund Hines bought a majority stake in earlier this year for €235m, and the Acorn portfolio – consisting of shopping centres in Blackpool, Balbriggan and Clonmel – which was bought for €170m by Minneapolis-based Varde Partners.

Several sources said Dundrum will attract a new type of investor to Ireland. “Asian sovereign wealth funds are a real possibility. It will attract a new kind of high-quality buyer, one who maybe hasn’t looked at Ireland previously,” said one. It is understood that Korean investors had been underbidders in the Liffey Valley Shopping centre. Gulf sovereign wealth funds and major pension fund investors are also thought to have run the rule over the centre in the last two years.

“It is a very desirable asset, one of the most successful shopping centres in Europe. It will attract buyers who have billions under management. It is a huge lot size. None of the Irish firms have the scale to do this deal.”

“We could also see a combination of international and Irish investors bid, fronted by a local asset manager. It really is a very exciting asset and a highly anticipated sale.”

Because of its size, Dundrum Town Centre rivals Dublin city centre as a retail hub. Despite the economic downturn it rarely sees a vacant unit and tenants range from luxury retailers such as Harvey Nichols and BT2 to Tesco, HMV and Penneys.

One insider said they would be “highly surprised” if Joe O’Reilly’s Chartered Land does not bid for the asset as part of a combination of investors.

The developer may have lost control of Dundrum but is still highly active in the retail sector. Chartered Land declined to comment. The firm has secured planning permission to develop a major shopping centre in the Moore Street area of Dublin 1. O’Reilly was also behind the development of the Swords Pavilion and ILAC shopping centre in Dublin.

There has been some internal movement at Chartered Land of late. Chief executive Dominic Deeny left earlier this summer for a position with Dunnes. He was replaced by Andrew Gunne, the former managing director of Key Capital Real Estate.

Dundrum won’t be the first retail hub Nama puts up for sale this year. It recently started the sale process for a portfolio of five shopping centres, valued at €100m. This includes Carrickmines retail park, the vast south Dublin site home to Harvey Norman, PC World and Halfords.


Retail returns to health as Barry Group opens 35 stores

Retail returns to health as Barry Group opens 35 stores

Published 08/09/2014 | 02:30

Costcutter: opening new stores. Picture credit: Steve Humphreys
RETAILER the Barry Group is opening 35 new stores.

The openings, to be completed by the end of this year, will create around 300 jobs.

The Mallow-based retail group, which owns the Costcutter chain of convenience stores and Carry Out off-licence brand, said consumer spending is in recovery mode.

Some 20 of its 35 new openings are Costcutter stores. Ten have already been opened, including outlets at Spiddal in Galway, Clonskeagh in Dublin, Monaghan town and Allenwood in Kildare. The remaining 15 openings are Carry Out off-licences.

All new stores will be operated as franchises.

The Barry Group is benefiting from dramatic changes in shopping habits post-recession. Convenience chains, budget stores and German discounters Lidl and Aldi have all gained ground at the expense of traditional supermarket giants like Tesco and Dunnes. Costcutter expanded its generic range to target thrifty consumers.

The downside, for the retail group, was fierce price competition. September figures from the Central Statistics Office showed food and drink prices rose at their slowest level since March 2012. Grocery price inflation was 1.5pc, down from 1.9pc in the three months before.

“Managing director Jim Barry has made huge structural changes at the group in the last 15 years, from buying to marketing to how we manage sales. That has started to come to fruition,” said Barry Group head of sales Paul Roche. The group is also benefiting from growing interest in community-based retailing, he said.

Many of its stores are located in rural locations and run as franchises by members of small and rural communities, which consumers increasingly prefer for ethical reasons, he added.

One new Costcutter store, in Monaghan, will invest 100pc of its profits in community projects.

The Barry Group has operated for 60 years. It owns the Quik Pick retail franchise alongside Costcutter and Carry Out. It also operates wholesale food and alcohol networks.

It recently invested €1m in a centralised chilled distribution solution, which is expected to add up to €200m in revenues over five years.

Irish Independent