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Weekly Round Up, October 15, 2014

By Publications Checkout
Weekly Round Up, October 15, 2014

European Union legislation has been blamed for the impending closure of a tobacco factory in Northern Ireland, which could result in the loss of around 900 jobs. Workers at JTI Gallaher in Ballymena were informed that a 90-day consultation has begun, which will see 871 jobs transferred to Poland and Romania. The first redundancies will be made in 2016, and the factory is set to close the following year. Commenting, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness made a joint statement, saying “For many years, JTI Gallaher has been a major employer for Ballymena and has made a significant impact to the wider local economy. We will make every effort to mitigate the impact of the job losses and we welcome any opportunity to meet with locally elected representatives to identify what options are available to those affected.” The factory contributes over £54 million per year to the economy through salaries, as well as providing business for over 100 other companies, adding a further £9 million. 

Prices on goods and services increased by 0.3% in the year to September, according to the latest report from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The most significant increases of the year relate to education (+4.5%), alcohol and tobacco (+4.1%), and restaurants and hotels (+2.8%). Meanwhile, other items and services decreased in price, including clothing and footwear (-2.6%), food and non-alcoholic beverages (-2.3%), furniture, household equipment and maintenance (-2.1%) and transport (-1.7%). The CSO added that the rise in cost for miscellaneous goods and services was mostly due to higher health and motor insurance premiums, and increased costs associated with local property tax. Whereas the annual rate of inflation for services was 2% in the 12 months to September, the rate for goods fell by 2%. Services, excluding mortgage repayments, rose by 3.2% in the year since September 2013. Meanwhile, excluding tobacco, the consumer price index (CPI) dropped by 0.3% in the month of September, and increased by 0.2% in the year. The CPI, excluding mortgage interest, decreased by 0.3% in the month and rose by 0.8% in the year.

Topaz customers and staff have raised over €280,000 for their partner charity, Aware, over the past two years. In addition to fundraising, the partnership aims to promote positive mental health and to highlight the important services provided by the charity. In September, Topaz staff across Ireland raised over €17,000 through a variety of fundraisers for Aware’s ‘Beat the Blues Campaign’. Topaz is the country’s largest fuel and convenience brand, with over 330 petrol stations nationwide, and continues to grow its business. Alan Quinlan, former rugby flanker and brand ambassador for Topaz, supported staff in Cashel in their fundraising efforts.

Orla Twomey, Assistant CEO of the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland has told the Sunday Independent that the organisation is doing a complete review of the advertising code, “which we do every five years or so”. She added, “One of the decisions that we need to make is do we introduce specific rules for e-cigarettes or whether we leave the current guidelines.” New rules were introduced in the UK over the past week which will allow e-cigarettes to be advertised, providing they are not “marketed to children”. Meanwhile, an advertisement promoting e-cigarettes in the US, starring former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy, was pulled.

Although the overall government satisfaction rating for small and medium businesses has increased, the figures are still relatively negative, according to the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (ISME). The latest ISME Government Satisfaction Survey has shown that the overall satisfaction rating rose from -41% to -4%, with small businesses being the least satisfied at –58%, while medium businesses are satisfied at 8%. Manufacturing is the least satisfied sector (-28%), but overall, Government satisfaction across all sectors increased, according to the report. ISME has called on the Government to address the continuing increase in business costs, which are negatively impacting SMEs and holding back economic recovery.


Avonmore is supporting the launch of new packaging across its milk range with a heavyweight media campaign. The firm said that the new Elopak carton (Pure-Pak Sense) is a first for the Irish market, and will benefit consumers with its one-twist opening mechanism, better pour and easier to flatten design for recycling. The company also said the new design will allow for additional space to reinforce the Avonmore brand story on-pack. The packaging launch began with Avonmore Super Milk, which is on shelf now. The supporting media campaign includes the Avonmore-sponsored Weatherline, outdoor activity, digital and social media. Furthermore, a series of short video clips based on the theme, ‘So easy a child could do it!’ will appear online in the coming weeks. Robert Jordan of Glanbia Consumer Foods commented on the launch: "We continually review our packaging to offer the best in terms of convenience for our customers, whilst at the same time ensuring the top quality and taste of our milk remains the same.”

Mace has announced the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) as its new charity partner for 2014/15, setting out to raise €100,000 for the Irish charity. The partnership will focus on fundraising for the foundation’s Nurses for Night Care programme, a free national service which provides homecare nurses for people with illnesses. The first initiative of the partnership will see Mace selling Halloween Smile chocolate lollipops at €1 across its nationwide store network, with all proceeds going to the hospice. Mace will also donate 10 cents from bottle of Mace water purchased, as well as a contribution from 50 other everyday items in the Mace own brand range. The Irish Hospice foundation needs to raise €410,000 to fund this service for one year. Alex Banahan, sales director of Mace, commented on the partnership: "We have an ambitious target to raise €100,000 for the charity, so we will be working with our independent retailers on several national and store level initiatives, and hope that our customers will be keen to show their support.”

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) have released research showing that the drinks services sector, which includes bars, restaurants and hotels, is a source of large scale employment and economic activity, employing over 136,000 people across 13,560 enterprises. The research uses data from the “2012 Annual Services Inquiry”, which was published by the CSO recently and is the most comprehensive, up to date data on the drinks related elements of the hospitality sector. Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, commented on the figures: “This latest data from the CSO confirms the economic impact of our bars, restaurants and hotels. [...] We would urge the Government to stop hitting an industry that is vital for the lifeblood of the economy; reverse excise, create jobs.”

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has warned that certain batches of Cow & Gate Sweet Squash and Chicken was incorrectly labelled with allergen information. The batches include: Cow & Gate Sweet Squash & Chicken from 7 Months onwards; pack size: 200 g; batches with expiry dates: 01.07.16; 22.07.16; 21.08.16 and 10.09.16. The implicated batches of this product incorrectly display ‘no added egg’ and ‘gluten free’ in a tick box although both egg and wheat are correctly shown in the ingredient list. If this allergen information box in solely relied upon then these batches may be unsafe for infants who are allergic to or intolerant of egg, wheat or gluten, or their constituents. The implicated batches were supplied to Boots Ireland stores.

© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Emily Horne.

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