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Weekly Round Up, January 20, 2015

Published on Jan 19 2015 12:54 PM

Weekly Round Up, January 20, 2015

The Irish star of the most recent series of BBC's The Apprentice, Roisin Hogan, will make a special guest appearance at the 2015 Checkout Conference, in association with Rabobank, which takes place next Tuesday at the InterContinental Hotel, Dublin. Hogan, who has recently launched her own food business, Nudels by Roisin, will join a lineup of expert speakers at the event. Tickets are selling fast, to secure your place, click here to purchase tickets online.

Unilever saw its full year underlying sales growth rise 2.9% last year, with volume up 1.0% and price up 1.9%, according to full year results issued this morning. Turnover at the food giant declined 2.7% to €48.4 billion, including a negative currency impact of 4.6%. Commenting on the performance, Paul Polman: Chief Executive Officer said, “Despite a challenging year for our industry with significant economic headwinds and weak markets we have delivered another year of competitive underlying sales growth and margin expansion. This consistency, now established over the last six years, has been achieved during a period of high volatility as we have built a more resilient company."

A survey conducted by Standard Life has found that Irish consumers are more confident in their spending in 2014 than the previous year. The Standard Life Financial Confidence Index indicated a 1.9% boost in consumer spending in Q4 2014. The index showed that those over 65 or older were the most confident with a score of 62.9. The age bracket of 49 to 54 year olds was the least confident with a score of 49.0. People contributing to some sort of pension scheme were significantly more confident than those who have none. Consumers with a pension had a score of 60.5 versus 48.0 for those without. Consumer confidence is being attributed to the improved economic activity, higher employer rates, and projected wage increases in 2015.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has announced that over three million litres of fuel have been seized since the third quarter of 2011, leading to the shutting down of 31 illegal operations. Since that period, 137 fuel stations have been shut down to breaches of their licensing agreements. There has been a reduction in incidences of laundering fuell since the introduction of new measures to reduce fraud. Licensing regimes for fuel traders has limited the ability for criminals to get illegal trade into the country, while greater investment in IT systems has brought better insight and detail into stock movements, control and fuel deliveries. Revenue is collecting information to identify suspicious transactions and distribution patterns to check if further investigation is then warranted. The Minister said that working internationally with fellow customs' agencies, better fuel markers, and data analysis are driving down fraud and helping to improve tax margins from the fuel trade.

Irish food and drink export figures have increased for a fifth consecutive year, up 4% on the previous year to almost €10.5 billion, a record high. Figures from Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects Report showed expansion has increased by 45%, an increase of €3.2 billion, since 2009. China jumped 11 places since 2008 to become the second largest market of Irish dairy in 2014. The total value of the Chinese market is now €520 million. As a whole, the entire Asian market is performing well, with Asian exports rising 45% to reach €850 million, while North American exports increased by 18% to €740 million.

Irish dairy co-operative Lakeland Dairies has bought Taste Trends Ltd, a UK company that specialises in fat-free frozen yogurts. The acquisition was for an undisclosed sum and will see the company benefit from rising demand for frozen yogurt in the 70 countries it exports to worldwide. Taste Trends is the largest producer of frozen yoghurts in Europe, with Coolicious products selling over 17 million units per year. At the end of 2013, the co-op posted a turnover of over €545 million. Speaking about the acquisition, Lakeland Dairies CEO Michael Hanley said: “Taste Trends is an innovative business with an excellent base of foodservice clients. […] We look forward to developing this new opportunity across our international foodservice business using our well-defined routes to market”.

A survey conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes of Irish business owners has found that half of business owners cite smartphones as essential to meeting their business needs. The survey, commissioned by Three Ireland, showed that 50% of business owners find their smartphone is the “single most important piece of technology” they have to do their job. Eoin McManus, Business Director, Three Ireland, said: “A smartphone is seen as not just a phone; business owners are using them to check email, manage schedules, stay up-to-date with industry news and trends as well as keeping in touch with colleagues”. The survey concluded that more business owners are using smartphones in CRM, payroll, and other banking services.

The Frascati Shopping Centre in Blackrock is in line for an extension, as part of a €67 million refurbishment project that will increase the site's total size to 172,000 sq ft. The plan consists of partial demolition of the existing building, and extending towards the junction of the Blackrock bypass and Mount Merrion Avenue. Additional space will house additional retail units, along with 500 more car-park spaces. Colliers head of retail Aidan McDonnell, which manages the centre said, “We are working to sign up tenants to the development and then we are looking to start construction quite quickly […] The redevelopment can be the first project of its kind since the downturn so we will have first-mover advantage”. Construction is expected to start before the beginning of the summer.

Sixteen more companies, including Coca-Cola, have signed up to take part in the Feeding Ireland's Future - Skills For Work Week 2015, taking place from 2-6 March. This brings the total number of companies involved in this year's programme to 25. Feeding Ireland's Future is an on-going initiative to get unemployed young people back to work, and give them the skills they need to begin or get their careers back on track. Site visits and free workshops are amongst the opportunities available for those involve. The scheme is promoted by ECR Ireland, and further supported with the Department of Social Protection through the Intreo service.

© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Genna Patterson and Robert Moloney.

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