This year, Checkout commemorates its 40th anniversary and with this in mind, every week, Retail Intelligence is going to ‘reel in the years’ and publish a story from our extensive archives. This feature from July 1980 looks back at Association of Distributive Trades CEO Ray Burke's extraordinary suggestion that all imports should be banned.
Speaking to retailers in Ennis, Ray Burke, the chief executive of the Irish Association of Distributive Trades, dropped a bombshell when he proposed a six month voluntary ban on imported foodstuffs which were alternatively available from Irish manufacturers.
While many are concerned at the problems facing Irish industry and are particularly concerned at the loss of jobs with the closure of the Irish manufacturing units, such as Lambs and HB Chocolates, this drastic proposal by Ray Burke has set the cat among the pigeons as far as the importers are concerned.
Today the Irish grocery trade is so complex and so diverse that such a move would require the Wisdom of Solomon to apply equitably. Take Cadburys, for example, who have switched to producing large runs of limited products while importing others. This company is only one example of the dilemma that would be faced by such a ban if implemented. Cadburys are a net exporter and a very successful earner of foreign currency.
The other question is, when is an Irish product not an Irish product? Today, British and other subsidiaries employ many Irish workers. Surely, they too are entitled to an Irish designation.
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