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Weekly Round Up, July 22, 2014

Published on Jul 21 2014 3:03 PM

Weekly Round Up, July 22, 2014

Retail sales grew 1.96% between April and June compared to the same quarter in 2013, according to the latest Irish Retail Industry Sales Review Q2 2014, from Retail Excellence Ireland. According to the study, sales on average grew by 4.58% in April (boosted by Easter falling later this year), however growth was more subdued in May, growing by less than 1%, and falling by 0.3% in June. Grocery sales remained flat, the study found, however pharmacy sales fell by 5% compared to the previous year. Hot beverage sales grew by close to 8%, which REI chief executive David Fitzsimons attributed to increased footfall. "People are much more active than they were, whether it’s shoppers or workers,” he said.

The CSO has revealed that the value of food and beverage products made and sold by Irish firms last year stood at €21.5 billion, with the sector accounting for 23.9% of all Irish products sold. Food products in particular reported a yearly increase of 6.7%, from €17.7 billion in 2012, to €18.9 billion in 2013. Overall, the net selling value of products made and sold by Irish industrial enterprise stood at €89.9 billion last year, a 4.6% rise on 2012 levels. The details were revealed as part of the annual PRODCOM report by the European Union, the EU's standard classification of production statistics.

Swiss Roll is the nation's favourite cake, according to a survey conducted by Farmbake, the Irish-owned and family-run cake business. The survey found that 31% of respondents rated Swiss Roll as their favourite cake, followed by Bakewell Tart (25%) and Apple Turnovers (22%). Over 80% said they eat a slice of cake at least once a week, with cream being the preferred accompaniment (55%). The survey also found that Sunday is the nation's favourite day to enjoy a slice of cake (32%), and 3pm is the preferred time (44%) to indulge. Unsurprisingly, tea is the favourite accompaniment (60%) followed by coffee (24%). The survey was conducted by Farmbake to mark the unveiling of their summer cake range, which includes Iced Cakes (8 pack), Assorted Fruit Tarts (6 pack), Apple Turnovers (4 pack) and Chocolate Coconut Macaroons (10 pack).

The Small Firms Association has met with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, and Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation, Damien English, TD to examine methods for greater job creation in the small business sector. The SFA called on the Enterprise Ministers to support its call for the reintroduction of a lower rate of employer PRSI, as well as encourage more people to 'take the risk' and set up new businesses. Commenting, SFA Director, Patricia Callan said, “The small business sector has consistently demonstrated that given the right economic conditions, small business owner-managers will, with confidence, continue to invest, create and grow new businesses, thus increasing employment levels and overall revenues to the Government in both business and personal taxation."

Bord Bia is to launch a €3.5 million campaign to promote Irish beef across the UK and Continental Europe, with most of the activity planned for August through to November. Activities will include in-store promotions, PR, digital media campaigns, tastings, national print and online competitions, advertising, Chefs Irish beef club events and inward buyer markets, similar to a new Irish beef campaign that Bord Bia launched in the Netherlands this week. The event included a 400,000 on-pack promotion of Irish beef across 400 Dutch stores, with in-store activity to be supported by an online and broadcast campaign that will reach over 11 million Dutch consumers. The Bord Bia Quality Assurance programme has certified over 42,500 beef farms, representing a 25% increase on last year while over 90% of all finished beef is sourced from Bord Bia QA certified farms.

Aldi has unveiled its latest Back to School clothing range, available to children aged 4-11 and featuring a full uniform for €6.47, which the retailer claims is the 'best value uniform' in Ireland. Aldi said that all uniforms have been quality tested by Intertek, a worldwide testing laboratory, and the polo shirts and sweaters are 100% cotton. Included in the collection are Trousers (€1.99 per pair), Plain Polo Shirts (€1.99 per pack of 2), Round Neck Sweaters (€2.49), Pleated Skirts (€1.99 each) and Scuff-Resistant Shoes (€7.00 a pair) among others. The school uniforms go on sale on Thursday 24th July. Colin Breslin, Group Buying Director at Aldi said: “The uniforms are a one-off ‘Specialbuy’ and will be available for a limited time only. However I would like to reassure our customers that we will have plenty of stock at each of our 108 Irish stores to meet the anticipated high demand.”

23% of Irish consumers eat out once a week, while 11% eat out two to three times a week, according to research commissioned by Bord Bia during the month of July. The research also sheds light on why consumers opt to eat out; 34% like to catch up with friends while 27% cite a special occasion. 28% said they do not need a reason to eat out, and do so “just because they feel like it.” 90% rated the traceability and origin of food as high on their priority list when selecting a restaurant to dine in, while price was the key deciding factor for 80% of diners. Commenting on the research, Maureen Gahan, Bord Bia said: “We’re delighted to see that consumers are still fans of eating out, which indicates that Irish establishments are offering great value and traceability when it comes to developing their menus.” The research coincides with Bord Bia’s Just Ask campaign, which encourages diners to seek out information on the origins of their food when eating out.

Obeo, a new National College of Art and Design spin-out company has introduced its first product, a new compostable food waste box for the home, on sale in Dunnes Stores. The box is filled with daily waste such as plate scrapings and tea bags, and once full, is placed directly into the brown bin and a new box opened. Obeo is made from compostable materials so breaks down naturally along with the waste, causing no harm to the environment. Co-founders Kate Cronin and Elizabeth Fingleton have been working on the concept for the last 18 months with the supports of Enterprise Ireland, NCAD and NovaUCD. “We discovered that there was a gap in the market for a product like Obeo that removes the yuck factors from food waste recycling such as smells, flies and bin juice,” said Cronin. "Our aim is to launch the Obeo product across Ireland and the UK before looking to the wider European market,” Fingleton added.

Beef and sheep farmers gathered at retail outlets in Navan last Wednesday in protest against supermarket retailers and processors, which they accuse of profiteering on the back of excessive beef and lamb price cuts to livestock farmers. Henry Burns, chairman of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) National Livestock joined the protest, saying “the farmer price for top quality lamb has been slashed from €5.70/kg to quotes of €4.80/kg in a matter of just two weeks. This is a price cut of close to €20 per lamb and will wipe almost all the farmer’s margin for his entire years work in just a few days. […] Farmers are demanding to know where the money has gone and who is taking the margin.” Burns said the IFA has called on Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, to tackle the issue.

VivaGreen, an Irish engineering firm based in South Dublin, has extended its GreenSax product range to include mini compostable bags used for dog waste, nappies and kitchen waste. Its compostable bin liners were launched in Ireland in 2005, and are due for exportation to the UK later this year. The company is headed by brothers Russel and Garret Walsh, who have a background in engineering and desire to bring the marketplace innovative, environmentally friendly products. All GreenSax products are made from natural materials and derived from products in the vegetable processing industry. The bags return foodstuff nutrients and garden waste back into the earth within two to four weeks. GreenSax bags are available from Tesco, SuperValu, Dunnes and a number of independent retailers, and come in a selection of sizes from the 13 litre pedal bin bag to the 240 litre outside brown wheelie bin bag.

Lidl is to offer customers a range of upmarket French wines, such as Bordeaux classics Pomerol and St Emilion, in an attempt to attract middle-class shoppers. The new range of premium wines is expected to hit 140 stores across Ireland from September. “The French wines will be an addition to the permanent range of wines from across the world which offer excellent value for money,” a spokeswoman said.

The ‘Access to Finance for SMEs’ report, compiled by the Joint Oireachtas Committee On Jobs, has called for a greater diversity of funding sources for credit-starved small and medium enterprises. The report found an over-reliance on the banking sector as a source of finance for Irish SMEs, and recommended the development of alternative proposals, such as crowd-funding and peer-to-peer initiatives. Linked Finance, the main peer-to-peer lender in Ireland, welcomed the proposals, specifically the possibility of the State co-funding loans similar to the British government and proposals to offer tax incentives to crowd-funding leaders. Other recommendations in the reports included the introduction of an independent review of lendings rates across the sector to address concerns surrounding the level of lending, alongside expanding MicroFinance Ireland’s scope to lend to SME’s other than those than have a credit application refused.

The Irish Stock Exchange is to change the dominant funding model for smaller businesses in Ireland by developing a plan for a bond market for SMEs that would allow investors to sink small sums into companies. It says that the government would need to take the lead on the project, however. Aileen O’Donoghue, Irish Stock Exchange director of strategy, drew comparisons to the United States, where 70% of equity is raised from markets rather than banks. “Historically, there hasn’t been a huge demand (for this service) there because finance was available through the banking sector, but the world has changed. [...] We can provide the infrastructure, but there’s not much point in building a piece of kit if the conditions aren’t right.” “Markets don’t operate in a vacuum, if this is to work then the Government needs to support it,” O’Donoghue said.

© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Charlie Burns.

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