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“Ireland INC: A History of Irish Business” out now

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Ireland INC: A History of Irish Business is out now: the first chronology of Irish business, starting with TK Whitaker’s transformation of Irish economic policy.

 

 

A History of Irish Business is the result of nearly four years of research, interviews and writing by a range of business journalists and provides some unique interviews, archive and business history spanning sixty years, in a stunning hardback edition of over 600 pages.

Beginning in 1958 with TK Whitaker’s Programme for Economic Development, this first volume details the evolution of Irish business community in both a domestic and global context and is the first chronology of Irish business.

Published by Ink Publishing, Ireland INC: A History of Irish Business features the work of leading business journalists, profiling the sectors, events, businesses and political leaders instrumental in forming the Irish business landscape. The book includes unique profiles and conversations with a range of influential business leaders spanning six decades of Ireland INC‘s evolution, including Michael Smurfit, Dr TK Whitaker, Denis O’Brien, Wilbur Ross, Herb Kelleher, Peter Sutherland, Dermot Desmond, Martin Naughton, Pádraig Ó hUigínn, Frances Ruane, Gary McGann, Don Keough and fascinating interviews from the archives of Business & Finance, including Tony O’Reilly, Tony Ryan, Tom Roche and many more.

Ireland INC: A History of Irish Business provides a unique source of reference for Irish and international business leaders, entrepreneurs, business students, policymakers, political leaders and historians alike.

Volume one outlines the evolution of the business community: successes and failures, booms and busts, pivotal moments and extraordinary personalities and businesses that have created a footprint in boardrooms across the world.

The book is available to buy online and from Irish stockists including branches of Barker & Jones, Book Centre, Dubray Books, Eason, Hodges Figgis, O’Mahony’s, Ennis Bookshop, Waterstones and WH Smith at Dublin Airport.

Superdry sees increase in sales but drop in profits

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The clothing company has seen sales rise to double digits. However, profits did drop.

The company’s shares faltered after recent currency fluctuations.

Sales rose by 20% to £402 million from the 26-week period ending on the 28 October, 2017. This may be so but gross profits dropped 28% to £9.1 million. Shares at the fashion brand have dropped 2.4% to £19.91 in the morning market.

The rise in sales can be attributed to the company’s expansion, where in the 26-week period it opened 91 new stores (23 of its own and 68 are licensed premises).

In a ten-week period to the 8 January, sales rose 13% to £216 million. The CEO of Superdry, Euan Sutherland, said, “Our focus is on executing against the growth opportunities we have identified. We have a clear brand positioning, an innovative approach to digital marketing, a disruptive multi-channel approach and a growing culture of operational excellence.”

Superdry will have to be careful in attempting to stave off such recent declines as Debenhams, where disappointing sales figures will likely lead to job cuts and store closures.

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£1 billion spent more than last year during Christmas period

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Kantar Worldpanel says that £1,054 was the average spend by households over the 12-week Christmas period to the 31 December.

The figures show supermarket sales increased in value by 3.8%. £1 billion pounds more than 2016 was spent during this period with a staggering £747 million being spent on the 22 December alone.

In terms of being the UK’s fastest-growing retailers, there is nothing to separate Aldi and Lidl, both growing sales by 16.8% year-on-year. Tesco was the fastest-growing of the big four supermarkets with an increase in sales of 3.1%.

Asda and Morrisons grew 2.2% and 2.1% in sales, respectively.

Online supermarket sales enjoyed their best Christmas yet (up 4.9% year-on-year).

Toys R Us to close ‘at least’ 26 stores across the UK

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The toys giant makes the announcement after filing for bankruptcy in September.

Around a third of Toys R Us stores across the United Kingdom will shut meaning 800 jobs are at risk following the company’s restructure plans after a bad run-up to Christmas and filing for bankruptcy.

With sales down 10% and profit margins under pressure, Toys R Us’ bankruptcy announcement in September is a result of a $5 billion debt (£3.7 billion) build up.

Other aspects such as the rise of e-commerce and online shopping alongside the rise in competition from the likes of Argos has seen the retail behemoth crash. A number of suppliers also reported stopping their deliveries to Toys R Us ahead of Christmas due to credit insurance issues.

Costa losing out to expensive imports and artisan competitors

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The coffee giant’s pre-tax profits dropped around 10% to £59 million.

Whitbread, Costa’s owner, saw group profits rise by 20% to £316 million thanks to its Premier Inn hotel business and a sales growth of 7% to £1.7 billion.

Coffee imports have become more expensive as the product is priced in dollars. This is also due to the fall in the value of sterling.

In the six months to 31 August, Costa’s revenues increased by 8% but this was largely down to the introduction of 108 new stores.

The Premier Inn Hotel saw profits rise by 27% to £295 million due to the addition of 2,000 rooms. It’s also looking to add eight new hotels in Germany.

Costa hopes that the “third wave of coffee” will help boost sales. With more artisan coffee producers reeling in young consumer, the British coffee giant will look into producing a more sophisticated and high-calibre quality of coffee.

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Lidl leapfrogs Waitrose in UK supermarket league

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Lidl has beaten Waitrose into seventh place in the UK supermarket rankings, dominated as usual by Tesco.

The German discounter has achieved 5.2% of the Kantar Worldpanel market share, up from 4.5% this time last year – beating Waitrose, which remained static on 5.1%. The latest rankings are:

  1. Tesco
  2. Sainsbury’s
  3. Asda
  4. Morrisons
  5. Aldi
  6. The Co-operative
  7. Lidl
  8. Waitrose
  9. Iceland
  10. Ocado

“There is good news for the UK’s largest retailers, as the recovery which has so far defined 2017 continues apace,” explained Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel. “All four of Britain’s biggest grocers managed to grow sales for the fifth consecutive period, a run of collective success not seen since 2013.

“However, this welcome period of sustained growth hasn’t been enough to entirely offset pressure from the discounters: the big four now account for just 69.3% of the UK grocery market – down from 76.3% five years ago – and that looks set to fall further in the coming months.”

The latest data covers a 12-week period ending 13 August, with 10 million households visiting Lidl to stock up on alcohol and fresh produce in particular.

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Evo Payments and AA announce new partnership and brand

Brian Cleary, managing director, Evo Ireland and UK.

Dublin-headquartered Evo Payments international has announced a deal with the AA in the UK to provide card pay technology to UK merchants under the new CardPay brand.

The deal is the first of its kind for the AA, which is moving into B2B financial services on the back of high consumer trust research rankings.

The service will be managed from Evo’s Dublin HQ where it operates under the BOI Payment Acceptance brand, a collaboration between Evo and Bank of Ireland.

“We are very excited to announce this new partnership with the AA,” said Evo Ireland and UK managing director Brian Cleary. “BOIPA only entered the payments market in early 2015, and in a very short space of time we have been hugely successful in delivering a superior payment service and value proposition for businesses across Ireland.

“From small corner shops and online traders to some of the country’s large corporates, Irish business owners have been quick to recognise the obvious benefits of our products, including the ability to process more transactions, experience reduced banking costs, and less exposure to theft and the misappropriation of cash.

“Applying these same principles to the UK market felt like a logical next step, and in partnering with the AA we are joining up with a universally trusted brand that prides itself on its market-leading financial products and first-class customer service.”

The deal follows a jobs announcement earlier this year, with 50 new roles created amid a €9.1m investment and the opening of a new Irish HQ – bringing the company’s headcount to 120 serving Ireland, North America and Europe.

AA Financial Services director David Searle also welcomed the news.

“From roadside emergencies to home insurance and savings, the AA has always been trusted to stand by the consumer’s side, whatever happens, and campaign for a better deal. With nearly a fifth of our members also running a small business, we have for some time been looking at what we can do to help, particularly given the current economic climate.

“UK small businesses are the bedrock of the country’s economic confidence. The challenges many SMEs have with payment terminals, often relating to opaque pricing tariffs and surprise add-ons, need to be put right and the status quo needs to be disrupted.

“Our partnership with EVO allows us to become a force for change in the UK card payments market, to bring greater simplicity, trust, and fairness for our members – which is at the heart of everything we do.”

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Amazon doubles London R&D headcount with new head office

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US multinational online giant Amazon has opened a new head office for its UK operations, in a move that grows its London R&D staff from 450 to 900.

The company has announced that it will take all 15 floors of its new London Development Centre in Shoreditch, taking its London corporate and R&D headcount to over 5,000 across its three facilities. It has invested over £6.4bn in the UK since 2010, and will add 5,000 UK jobs this year as its UK workforce will reach 24,000.

According to its UK country manager, Doug Gurr, “London is one of the world’s truly great cities and home to some of the most talented, creative people on the planet, and we are delighted to provide our teams of innovators with a new, purpose-built workplace.

“While we open a new development centre to house today’s innovators, we also want to help foster the next generation of inventors by funding a million healthy breakfasts to give schoolchildren the fuel to learn, and expand our bursary programme to help more women get university educations for high tech roles.”

The news was also welcomed by Minister for Digital Matt Hancock and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

 

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Sports Direct profits slashed as Ashley promises ‘Selfridges of sport’

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Sports Direct has reported a 58.7% drop in profits before tax, with founder and CEO Mike Ashley blaming a weak pound sterling.

The news came amid the retailer’s preliminary results for the year ended April 30th, and also saw group revenue rise by 11.7%. Net debt rose to £182.1m, up from £99.7m in the previous year.

“Sports Direct is on course to become the ‘Selfridges’ of sport by migrating to a new generation of stores to showcase the very best products from our third-party brand partners,” said Ashley. “We have invested over £300m in property over the last year, and I am pleased to report that early indications show that trading in our new flagship stores is exceeding expectations.

“We will continue to invest and make decisions for the long term, whilst trying to conservatively manage the currency volatility that is reflected in our full year results. As previously announced, the devaluation of sterling against the US dollar has led to a significant impact on EBITDA and profits in FY17. We have put in place hedging arrangements to minimise the short-term impact of currency volatility, but like many UK retailers we remain exposed to medium/long term currency fluctuations. Our results were also impacted by provisions and depreciation charges.

“I would like to thank all our people at Sports Direct for ensuring that we continue to move forward together whilst elevating our retail proposition.”

The group has spent much of the year in the headlines for its treatment of workers and Ashley’s colourful conduct as reported in recent High Court proceedings.

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VIDEO: How having your own business is like never working a day in your life

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Nick Wheeler, Chief Executive and founder of Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts

Ruraidh Conlon O’Reilly speaks with entrepreneur Nick Wheeler about the “constantly changing” entrepreneurial landscape.

Successful businessman Wheeler was in Dublin to speak with guests at the KPMG Inspire Series, which features guest speakers from across the business spectrum, from leading entrepreneurs to venture capital and business leadership and management experts.

Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts is a leading UK shirts and menswear maker, which has taken the traditional retail model and added a highly successful online presence, quickly becoming one of Europe’s leading online retailers.

The full interview with Wheeler will be available over the coming weeks.