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Yanks save Clerys

POSTED ON October 3rd  - POSTED IN Business

It would be like losing Macy’s. Clerys, the iconic Dublin department store, will remain in business after a Boston-based equity group, Gordon Brothers, acquired the company’s flagship store on O’Connell Street. The 147 staff at the store will be retained under existing terms and conditions as a result of the acquisition. A further 200 people, who work for concessionaires, will also keep their jobs.

However, sister store, Guineys on Dublin’s Talbot Street, as well the Clerys home furnishing stores in Leopardstown in County Dublin and Naas, Co. Kildare, have been put into liquidation with the loss of 29 jobs, the Irish Independent reported. “The iconic Clerys department store has, for generations of Irish people, been an important feature of Dublin retail life and Gordon Brothers is committed to re-vitalizing its fortune,” said Frank Morton, Chief Executive of Gordon Brothers Europe.

“We will invest in the store and look forward to working with the management, staff, concessionaires and suppliers to review and improve operations, to significantly enhance the offering to customers and build on the many excellent features of the store,” he added. Based in Boston, Gordon Brothers was established in 1902 and has considerable experience and a strong track record in the retail sector, the report stated. The ticket price for the buyout, according to the report, is “understood” to be €14 million.

Ryanair a persistent suitor

POSTED ON October 3rd  - POSTED IN Business

EU officials are still pondering it, Irish government officials appear opposed to it, and not a few fans of Aer Lingus are worried by it. But the pursuit of the former Irish flag carrier by budget airline Ryanair is still very much on. And Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary says he is still hopeful that the European Commission will sanction the airline’s €694 million attempt to buy Aer Lingus.

After last week’s Ryanair annual general meeting, O’Leary also warned that Aer Lingus faces being broken up if Ryanair’s latest takeover attempt fails. Speaking to reporters following the meeting in Dublin, O’Leary said that the Ryanair has presented “radical remedies” to Brussels in an effort to secure approval.

He said that a number of airlines have already told Ryanair that they will begin servicing routes to and from Dublin that Ryanair would plan to relinquish under a deal to acquire Aer Lingus. Ryanair already holds a 29.4 percent stake in Aer Lingus. The Irish government’s stake is 25.4 percent.

Belleek goes for top dollar

POSTED ON October 3rd  - POSTED IN Business

Times might be tough but when you are crafting art for posterity it’s not the same as a cellphone: cool today, obsolete tomorrow.

So Belleek Pottery’s latest creation is one for the ages – literally.

The Fermanagh-based company with the globally recognized name has just released its most expensive piece ever, the “International Centrepiece” priced at £75,000, or roughly $120,000.

Five of the international centerpieces have been released and there has been a great deal of interest in them from America and across the globe already, said the company in a release.

The centerpiece was designed some time ago by Frederick Slater, who came to Belleek in 1893. It would win four gold medals at the Paris Exhibition in 1900.

Time, clearly, has not dimmed its appeal or the demand for it.

It is currently on display in the foyer of the Belleek Visitor Center.

Standing at 28 inches tall and 16 inches at it widest point, the urn shaped vase is decorated with flowers believed to have been made by William Henshall.

Irish harps rest on the base and support Irish wolfhounds. Behind the harps is an example of pierced work which would have been popular on early Belleek designs.

Each leaf, flower, wolfhound, harp was created by hand. Every bead, chain link which is connected to the wolfhound was created and joined by hand, Belleek said.

“Over the years, according to Belleek, “the skills of basket weaving, modeling and painting have been handed down from father to son. The current chief designer, Fergus Cleary, who joined the modeling department in 1978, is grandson of former craftsman, James Cleary.”

Meet the energizer CEO running Revlon

POSTED ON September 27th  - POSTED IN Business

By Maura Kelly

On a recent, balmy Wednesday evening, Alan T. Ennis, President and CEO of Revlon, Inc. joined members of the Irish Business Organization (IBO) to talk about his role at the global cosmetics giant and to share some strategies for professional achievement, writes Maura Kelly.

According to the Dublin-born Ennis, business success is a combination of two factors: ability and opportunity.

Based on his fast-track career path, it’s clear that Ennis has the experience, management style, and ability and takes full advantage of opportunities that are presented.

One major opportunity that he seized was in May 2009 when Ron Pearlman offered him the job of president and CEO at Revlon, Inc. Today, the 42-year-old energetically oversees the $1.4 billion, NYSE-listed company with a presence in over 100 countries and key markets in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the UK.

In his address to the IBO members and guests, Ennis reviewed his formula for success. As a leader, he noted that you must be strong in your convictions and honest in your dealings, be prepared to seize opportunity when it comes and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Ennis learned early on that a true CEO never works in isolation and recruiting talent and building a strong team is paramount.

“Build, nurture and trust your team, your people are a key to your success,” he said. He knows that in today’s volatile marketplace, the financial literacy and business acumen of his managers is fundamental to the bottom-line and he focuses on results, looks for clear accountability while promoting open communications.

Ennis is also actively involved in the business, even personally sampling some of the many products. He has gone as far as to test lipsticks and mascara to measure the texture of the products and ensure they are as described. Now that is commitment.

Currently, with over 4,800 employees worldwide, Ennis is working hard to return Revlon to its leadership position in the beauty business by focusing on growing the business and the brands, developing the company’s organizational capability and driving Revlon to act globally. It’s good to know that Revlon has a small presence in Dublin comprised of several seasoned sales executives.

Underscoring the “ability and opportunity” scenario, prior to his CEO role, Ennis was a numbers wiz at Revlon and held various positions in finance and auditing.

Since 2006, he has been Chief Financial Officer, executive vice president and president of Revlon International, that latter he credits with broadened his knowledge of the global cosmetics landscape and the importance of efficiency standards.

Earlier in his career, Ennis held several senior positions with Ingersoll-Rand Company. He began his business odyssey in 1991 with Arthur Andersen in Dublin and is a chartered accountant. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University College Dublin, and a Master of Business Administration degree from NYU Stern. Regarding his Irish roots, Alan Ennis’s father, Michael, comes from Tipperary and his mother, Maggie, is from Cork. Ennis believes that “being Irish is about perseverance, resilience, and gratitude.” He currently resides in New Jersey with his wife, Michelle, and three young children.

Talking about global companies, a global professional organization active in the tri-state area is the Irish International Business Network or IIBN.

This unique organization is made up of successful Irish entrepreneurs and business professionals throughout the world. Launched in 2007, today IIBN has chapters in London, Dublin and New York.

This year, IIBN is planning a tri-chapter “Fashion Couture Event” with a fashion event in Dublin, New York and London. The New York event is in association with the Irish Consulate and for details go to For more information on future Irish Business Organization events and speakers, go to And don’t forget to connect with me on Twitter @maurakellymedia.

Way down and a tiny uptick

POSTED ON September 19th  - POSTED IN Business

If you bought a house in Dublin five years ago, tough luck. That year was the peak of the property bubble. House prices in the Irish capital are now running at 56 percent lower than that eve of the big bubble bust

Dublin apartment prices, meanwhile, are now 63 percent lower than in 2007 while in the rest of the Republic, the drop in the price of residential property is lower at 47 percent.

Overall, according to the Residential Property Price Index published by the Irish government’s Central Statistics Office, the national property price index is 50 percent lower than at its peak in 2007.

Residential property prices fell by 13.6 percent nationally in the year to July, but actually rose by 0.2 percent in that month.

The slight rise in prices in the month of July compares with a drop of 1.1 percent in June, and a decline of 0.8 percent in July 2011, this according to the Residential Property Price Index published by the CSO.

Too soon for new tax

POSTED ON September 19th  - POSTED IN Business

Fianna Fáil is calling on the Fine Gael/Labour government to sideline the introduction of the property tax, due to be introduced next year, charging that the government has “made an utter mess” of the issue.

A property value-based tax is set to be introduced from January 2013, although no details have been decided as yet, the Irish Times reported.

Fianna Fáil senator Darragh O’Brien said that while the idea of a property tax should be examined, now was the wrong time.

“(Minister) Phil Hogan and his government colleagues have made an utter mess of the property tax issue from day one. The initial household charge, which they told us was the pilot project to show the country how easy it could be, was a disaster, with almost 40 percent of the population unable or unwilling to pay the €100 charge.

“Phil Hogan, in his wisdom, responds to this by punishing everyone and cutting the services of local authorities all over the country to the point where one major urban council can no longer keep street lighting operational. In the meantime, we finally got confirmation of the scale of our mortgage arrears crisis, with one in five of mortgage holders now either in arrears or having restructured with their banks.

“A more realistic and common sense approach is needed. The government needs to prioritize efforts to address the mortgage arrears crisis first and get people back to work before introducing any new charges on people’s homes,” O’Brien said.

Ryanair Lingus bid on hold

POSTED ON September 19th  - POSTED IN Business

The European Com­mission is to carry out an “in depth investigation” into Ryanair’s bid for control of Aer Lingus. The commission has long- fingered a decision on the application until January 14, 2013.

As a result, Ryanair’s takeover bid for Aer Lingus will be allowed to “lapse” but could be renewed if regulatory approval comes at the end of the investigation.

A preliminary investigation by the commission identified grounds for competition concerns that must now be fully assessed, the website FlightGlobal reported.

Ryanair’s €694 million ($882 million) bid for the former Irish flag carrier – its third in six years – was widely expected to encounter regulatory opposition due to the virtual monopoly any merged entity would command on key routes between the United Kingdom and Ireland, the report stated.

“Ryanair and Aer Lingus are the main operators out of Dublin airport. On a large number of European routes, mainly out of Ireland, the two airlines are each other’s closest competitors and barriers to entry appear to be high. Many of these routes are currently only served by the two airlines. The takeover could therefore lead to the elimination of actual and potential competition,” the commission said in a statement.

Ryanair reacted to the decision with something less than joy.

“Following today’s (29 August) decision of the European Commission to refer the acquisition of Aer Lingus to Phase II, Ryanair’s offer lapses … with immediate effect, and all acceptances of the offer to date are void. Ryanair intends to re-bid for Aer Lingus if the European Commission clears its offer following its Phase II review.”

Ryanair already owns 29.8 percent of Aer Lingus. The former does not fly the Atlantic while the latter does.

An Irish Times editorial noted that the commission’s decision to examine in detail Ryanair’s bid for Aer Lingus will have surprised few.

“The result of its in-depth investigation, which must be announced by mid-January, seems close to a foregone conclusion. The commission in its preliminary review has already signaled major potential competition concerns.

Will it be third time lucky? The odds, it would seem, are stacked against Ryanair.

Previously, it was reported that Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways was interested in possibly purchasing Ryanair’s Aer Lingus stake though the Middle Eastern carrier, which operates services out of Dublin, has stated that is not actually engaged in any talks with Ryanair.

Etihad already has a small stake in Aer Lingus, amounting to just three percent.


Classic spawned sideline business huddle

POSTED ON September 10th  - POSTED IN Business

The Emerald Isle Classic was about a lot more than football. For one thing it was a curtain raiser to the Gathering, the Irish government’s ambitious effort to lure the Irish diaspora to Ireland’s shores next year in record numbers.

The Notre Dame versus Navy game was also an opportunity to enhance transatlantic business ties and this was precisely the play as the Tánaiste and minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, hosted an “Investment Roundtable” at Government Buildings two days ahead of the big game.

Though Gilmore played host, the meeting was actually convened by The Coca-Cola Company.

The roundtable, according to an Irish government release, was moderated by Irishman, Irial Finan, a member of the Irish government’s Global Irish Network Advisory Group and Executive Vice President of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

The joint Government/ Coca-Cola meeting was attended by over 20 leaders of U.S. companies who were visiting Ireland to attend the game at the Aviva Stadium.

Stated the release in part: “The Investment Roundtable is one of a series of events taking place on the margins of the Emerald Isle Classic. Included among the many thousands of fans of the two premier college teams are a number of high-level American business people who have accepted an invitation from leaders of The Coca-Cola Company to attend a roundtable hosted by the Tánaiste to learn what Ireland has to offer as an investment location.”

Stated Mr. Gilmore: “On behalf of the government I am delighted to have this opportunity to personally brief a key new audience on the tremendous progress Ireland is making in its economic recovery and to highlight the many advantages Ireland offers as an investment location.                                         “Foreign Direct Investment has been a vital component of the successful development of our economy in the past, and the high level of U.S. investment has been critical to this. My message today is that there has never been a better time to invest here.”

Added Mr. Finan: “The Coca-Cola Company has been investing in Ireland for over a half a century and has built a significant presence across the island of Ireland. We wish to play our part in helping to support the Irish government’s job creation and economic growth strategy.”

The roundtable was also addressed by Coca-Cola Company director, and chairman emeritus of Notre Dame Foundation, Don Keough, whose commitment to Ireland over the past 50 years is widely recognized as having led to both economic and social investments by Coca-Cola, and personal investment in educational and cultural links.

Among other representatives of the Irish government at the meeting were Barry O’Leary, Chief Executive of IDA Ireland, who addressed the American visitors and participated in a question and answer session intended to explain assistance and support the IDA can provide to potential investors in Ireland.

“The IDA welcomes the convening of this important event which once again highlights the vital importance of Ireland’s strategic relationships with so many U.S. companies,” said O’Leary.

“Ireland is staging a strong economic recovery and pivotal to these efforts are long term relationships with key U.S. corporates. The IDA is determined to develop and enhance these relationships even further in future.”

Buckley new INM chair

POSTED ON August 31st  - POSTED IN Business

Cork businessman Leslie Buckley has been appointed chairman of the board of Independent News & Media at an extraordinary general meeting held in Dublin’s Conrad Hotel on Monday.

The move will further consolidate the position in the company of billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien.

Buckley is the vice-chairman of international mobile phone operator Digicel and helped manage the start-up of the Esat Telecom Group and Esat Digifone with O’Brien.

Buckley was voted off the board of Ireland’s largest media company last year, but since then O’Brien has increased his shareholding at INM from 22 percent to 29.9 percent.

INM publishes the Irish Independent newspaper.

First a charge, now a tax

POSTED ON August 31st  - POSTED IN Business

Hundreds of thousands of Irish homeowners have yet to register to pay the €100 household charge mandated by the government.

But if many people are unhappy with the charge, they are likely to be even less happy with a new property tax that will come into force in 2013.

Minister of Finance Michael Noonan has thus far declined to reveal his preference on how the new tax on property tax should be calculated, the Irish Times reported this week.

Speaking in Limerick on Monday, Minister Noonan said the new tax will be introduced next year, as required under the terms of Ireland’s agreement with the EU-IMF troika.

He would not comment on speculation the tax would be value-based but said the Revenue Commissioners would have responsibility for collecting it due to difficulties experienced in collecting the household charge.

According to Department of the Environment figures, about 600,000 homeowners out of the estimated 1.6 million in the State have yet to register to pay the €100 household charge, the Times report stated.

“The detail of the property tax has to be worked out. All that has been decided is that there will be a property tax on family homes and that property tax will be collected by the Revenue Commissioners,” said Mr. Noonan.

“Of course I have a preference and I’ll be stating it at cabinet,” he added.

The minister described the property tax as a budgetary matter and warned that Budget 2013 – which will be unveiled before Christmas – will include tax increases and cuts to services.

“We are still as a country spending a lot more than we collect in taxation and there’s only two possible ways of closing the gap. One is to cut what we spend and the other is to increase taxes.

“It’s very hard on people. There’s no doubt that people are paying the price of what happened at the peak of the Celtic Tiger,” Noon said.

“I’m not making light of it. The issues are very serious and the burden being put on our fellow citizens is a very serious burden and they are having tough times.

“All I can say is if we stick with it we are going to work our way through it. If we give up half way across the river we will have all the pain and we won’t have the solution either.”

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