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Weekly Round Up, January 6, 2015

By Publications Checkout
Weekly Round Up, January 6, 2015

SuperValu has launched a new at-home coffee capsule, compatible with Nespresso machines. The ’Signature Tastes’ coffee capsules cost €1.99 per packet of ten. Commenting on the launch, Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, SuperValu, said, “We are delighted to announce the launch of SuperValu Signature Tastes Coffee Capsules. At SuperValu, we appreciate that our customers are looking for real quality and value. Our move into coffee capsules is a further demonstration of SuperValu’s approach to offering our customers a broad range of products at exceptional value.” The range includes Smooth Lungo, Classic Espresso and Intense Ristretto.

The majority of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) won’t be giving major pay rises to their staff this year, according to the Irish Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Association (ISME). The group’s survey findings found that 71% of businesses will not be changing wage rates in 2015, and 15% will cut wages to stay afloat. Those expecting a pay rise, will average just over 1% of their total wage. Mark Fielding, ISME CEO, said, Fortunately we are starting to see signs of stability […] However, the situation for SMEs remains precarious. They have been struggling to stay afloat and owner-managers in particular have borne the brunt of the pain by taking huge pay cuts.” He added, “Ireland is still a high-cost location, as many SMEs find it difficult to trade profitably, due to legacy leases, long term agreements and old wage rates. We know that there is a dual economy and that big business is doing better.”

Bewley's Café on Grafton Street has taken the decision to close next month for a six month period, reopening as a simpler, one-floor operation, in a bid to curb increasing losses. While Bewley's makes sales of round €5.6 million a year on the premises, its rent currently stands at €1.5 million, with a legal challenge to have its upward-only rent clause recently rejected. Bewley's chief executive John Cahill told the Irish Times, “We have a choice of either permanent closure or investing in a realignment and rejuvenation of the cafe. We have chosen to underpin its future sustainability through a restructuring plan involving further investment and improvement.” Up to 140 jobs are thought to be at risk.

Drinks group C&C has dropped its bid for the Spirit Pub Company. C&C, which owns brands like Bulmers Original Cider and Tipperary mineral water, would have to offer in the region of €1 billion to buy the Spirit Pub Company. Spirit has reportedly already considered an offer from brewer Greene King. The move is likely to be welcomed by the cider maker’s investors; when the C&C offer was made public last October, the company’s shares dropped more than 11% in a day. C&C had a troublesome 2014, with shares down more than 25% since June 2014.

The Government’s plan to introduce new legislation to ban alcohol sponsorship in sport is moving closer, with new legislation expected to be published next month. The clause will be contained in the Public Health (Alcohol Bill) which aims to limit misuse of alcohol and limit the below cost selling of drink. Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Sport Paschal Donohoe said the ban will not be introduced until alternative methods for funding are put in place for sports events.

The EU Parliament, Council and Commission have all been in talks to lower fees for debit and credit card processing charges. The fees that banks charge retailers to process shoppers’ payments could soon be capped across the EU following the trialogue pre-Christmas negotiatons between the EU Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee with the European Council and Commission. Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin MEP explained, “Interchange fees for card based payments, paid by the merchant’s bank to the bank that issued the card, are not transparent and they differ between EU countries." Once this agreement has been finalised, cross-border debit card transaction fees will be capped at 0.2% of the transaction value. For credit card transactions, a fee cap of 0.3% will apply. Member states can impose a lower cap if they wish, which is all good news for shoppers.

Advertisements in the UK claiming that shoppers can save by switching to Aldi have been banned for a second time,following complaints by Tesco that the discounter’s price comparison was flawed. The Aldi “Swap & Save” campaign featured four customers talking about swapping from their usual supermarket to Aldi. On screen text said 84 out of 98 people saved between September 16 and December 1 last year, after shopping in their usual supermarket for four weeks, and then in Aldi for the same period. Tesco complained that the comparison was misleading because the period was out of date and invalid for a price sensitive market, weekly shops were not compared on a like-for-like basis and explanatory information in the adverts was not sufficiently prominent. The Advertising Standards Authority concluded: “We considered the way in which the comparison was presented in the ads implied more people had participated in the eight-week challenge than was the case. Therefore the ads were in breach of the Codes."

According to the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (ISME), there was improved growth in sales figures in the last quarter compared to previous quarters, with more companies expecting this to continue in the coming months. Twelve indicators are measured in the ISME Quarterly Business Trends Survey, with only future employment falling quarter-on-quarter. However, there is still an expectation of job growth within the SME sector. ISME CEO Mark Fielding said that as many as 60,000 jobs could be created by small and medium-sized businesses during 2015. He added, “Exporters are the most confident sector, with all indicators in the positive. Business and profitability expectations and current employment are at their highest in years.”

Geoff Read, the founder of Ballygowan Spring Water, is introducing a new breakfast product called Nosh. Nosh is a new take on the traditional smoothie. It is the first product in the world to mix quinoa, whole oats, real fruit pieces, Greek style yogurt and fruit juice for a on-the-go breakfast beverage. The product is being targeted at young urban professionals, due to one third of consumers not eating their breakfast at home anymore. Currently, there are four flavours in the Nosh range, which is available in 250ml bottles priced €2.79 each. The flavours include Strawberry and Banana, Real Banana, Mango & Passion Fruit and Porridge, Yogurt & Honey. Nosh is being distributed by Pallas Foods in Ireland, and is available in select Dunnes Stores nationwide. Additional outlets are to be announced in early 2015.

© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Robert Moloney.

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