Retail Ireland appoints BWG Foods’ Willie O’Byrne as new chairman

Willie O'Byrne, managing director, BWG Foods has welcomed the addition of Tougher Oil and its operations to the BWG group
Willie O'Byrne, managing director, BWG Foods

BWG Foods’ managing director Willie O’Byrne has been appointed the new chairman of Retail Ireland, Ibec’s retail representative group

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18 April 2017 | 0

Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, announced BWG Foods’ managing director, Willie O’Byrne as its new chairman earlier today.

Upon his election, O’Byrne said: “I am delighted to take on the role of chairman of Retail Ireland. Retail is an exciting, dynamic, innovative industry, and I look forward to working with the Retail Ireland team to ensure that the many issues facing the sector are fully recognised and addressed during my term as chairman.

“I further look forward to realising the ambition contained in our new strategy ‘Shaping the future of Irish retail 2020’; which will serve as our blueprint for the development of the sector over the coming years across four key areas – careers, competitiveness, confidence and community.” he added.

O’Byrne will serve a two year term and replaces outgoing chairman, Conor Whelan, managing director of Eason Group. O’Byrne will be joined at the helm of the organisation by Brian Donaldson, chief executive of the Maxol Group, who takes on the role of vice-chairman.

“The industry is facing a number of challenges which we as an organisation must address immediately,” O’Byrne said. “These include the fallout from Brexit, which has already impacted upon consumer sentiment, with retail sales growth softening considerably in the months following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

“We also must work with the government to address the rising costs Irish retailers face which – allied to the emerging threat from foreign online-only retailers – threatens to undermine the future sustainability of the sector,” he added.

Retail Ireland has six key policy asks of the government over the lifetime of its new strategy, which include the following:

  • Centralise the government’s support for the retail sector
  • Introduce a tax credit to support Irish retailers to compete with international online retailers
  • Grow consumer disposable income
  • Reduce the cost of regulatory compliance
  • Increased support for retail training and education programmes
  • Regenerate Ireland’s high streets

Welcoming the incoming chairman, Retail Ireland director, Thomas Burke said: “Retail Ireland has been on an exciting journey over the last two years and with the unveiling of our new industry strategy in recent weeks, the organisation stands ready to address the major challenges facing the retail sector over the coming months and years.”

O’Byrne was appointed managing director of BWG Foods in December 2009; prior to that he was managing director of the Mace business and in an earlier stint with the company he held the role of Cash & Carry director.

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