Borderline madness

Caroline Byrne, Editor
Caroline Byrne, Editor

August 2008: If wages are 30% higher in the Republic of Ireland, rent is up to 183% higher, and waste management costs more than five times what it does in the UK, go and do the math, as they say



20 August 2008

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On the day we went to print with the August issue of ShelfLife, one of the morning freesheets asked in its poll of the day, "Are supermarkets over-charging?" In a brief exposition accompanying ‘today’s poll’, the priceless journal said that the Government has been warning supermarkets to explain the "massive price differences for the same goods either side of the border." It wanted to know what the public thinks – answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Fun game, has it replaced the crossword?

Caroline Byrne

Caroline Byrne, Editor

I can’t help but ask who started this craze for misguided comparison of two totally different markets. On reflection, I believe it was the NCA who trumpeted the North-South price survey as proof that retailers in the Republic of Ireland are uncompetitive and offer little value to their customers. The same NCA that has had to postpone publishing its latest price survey thanks to Tesco Ireland’s extremely inconvenient €100 million price-cutting campaign. Not to worry though, they’ll have plenty to occupy them now proving that this is really a hoax on Tesco’s part.

Meanwhile, other very public figures in Ireland are urging Irish consumers to take their money out of our economy and head North where the pickings are cheap. The reality for retailers on the border however, is far from funny. In our exclusive survey, we hear from retailers themselves how this has impacted on their businesses and what, if anything, they feel they can do about it.

Seen as it’s the ‘in’ thing at the moment, we’ve carried out a North-South comparison of our own. Gillian Hamill dissects the cost of doing business on either side of the border to see if there could possibly be another explanation for the 30% difference that the NCA finds unacceptable.

Well if wages are 30% higher in the Republic of Ireland, rent is up to 183% higher, and waste management costs more than five times what it does in the UK, go and do the math, as they say.

Get your Act together

In other news this month the Intoxicating Liquor Act has finally been passed into law, on 31 July. This month, Brian Skelly talks to the trade to find out what it means for retailers. The big bad structural separation may not have come into play just yet but all is dependent on the stakeholders producing an acceptable code of practice and adhering to it. Our legal guide runs through the sections of the Act that have commenced, or have yet to commence, and tells you what you need to know to be compliant. However, ‘watch this space’ seems to be the message in both features as there could be a lot more coming down the tracks where alcohol legislation is concerned.

Also in the Advisor section this month, the Coach talks us through the delicate issue of dealing with an employee who is not performing as required. On the other side of the coin however, Barry Whelan reveals how to be ‘lay-off proof’ during this period of economic uncertainty.

Keep confident

On a more positive note we visited two new stores this month to remind ourselves that in reality, for the most part, business is alive and healthy in Ireland. Gillian Hamill met the proud owner of the new Centra in Ennis. He may not be selling as many breakfast rolls since the downturn in the construction industry but he’s churning out stir-frys to beat the band.

In Cavan, I took a tour of the new-look Value Centre wholesale store. Business on the border has been no easier for this operation in recent times but they remain confident and focused, and that’s what we want to hear. Working away at our businesses is all we can do – leave the hysteria to the media, they need something to keep them going through the slow summer months!



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