In the papers this week 1-6 Feb 2009

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RGDATA wants "large retailers" to tell all, Unilever takes a dip, Anne Fitzgerald gets in hot water over €25k bonus, and Asda and Sainsbury's grow market share in ROI to 2.5% without having a single store here



6 February 2009

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It was all go in the Oireachtas this week as a Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment tried to get to the bottom of “Rip-Off Ireland.” What ensued was an unrivalled exercise in passing the buck, according to Paul Cullen in The Irish Times.      


RGDATA said the Companies Act should be amended to force large retailers to disclose their profits; so we can all see if they’ve been profiteering. Unsurprisingly, Tesco and Aldi who were present at the hearing, weren’t quite so keen though, as The Irish Times reports.


But funnily enough, Tesco chief executive Tony Keohane wasn’t so reticent when it came to disclosing that Irish “wholesale prices are significantly higher than in Britain or Northern Ireland, putting retailers here at a significant cost disadvantage”, reported The Irish Independent.


It seems the committee will have its work cut out in deciphering why retail prices are 30% higher here than in the north. That 30% differentiation hasn’t stopped National Consumer Agency (NCA) boss Ann Fitzgerald pocketing a €25,000 bonus though.

Another thing we can be sure of, says the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is that the farmers ain’t seeing any of it. The Irish Times reports that farmers are getting only one-fifth of goods’ retail price.


It’s not surprising then, that they don’t want the retailers getting their mitts into the cookie jar that is the pork recall compensation fund. The IFA says that there’s just not enough to go around. “Each sector along the supply chain must absorb a financial loss as a result of the recall, and that is the unfortunate reality.”


But as the Oireachtas fearlessly battles to consign “Rip-Off Ireland” to the dustbin of history, the debacle surrounding our retail planning guidelines (RPG) is one that refuses to go quietly into that good night. Should RPG be expanded or would this simply open the floodgates for hyper-markets and out-of-town developments? RGDATA, who are quite happy with the current RPG, thank you very much, got a little help from some friends in the north on the issue. Glyn Roberts of NIIRTA agrees that removing the cap would be “utter madness,” in The Irish Times.

That support should go someway to make up for yet another ‘colour piece’ on the NI shop craze, with more coverage on the exodus of southern shoppers to a northern price paradise.
This week we learn that Peter Beckett, who manages the Enniskillen branch of Asda, is one happy man. “I love a buzz,” he says. Lucky him!

The Irish Times business magazine Innovation also informs us that British retailers Sainsbury’s and Asda hold a 2.5% share of the Republic’s grocery market, despite not having any stores here, according to TNS Worldpanel research.


But lest we envy our northern neighbour (too much), The Irish Times provides some comforting news which should help keep the faith. According to TNS mrbi data, “groceries for the household are seen as sacrosanct, with 78% of respondents saying they will be maintaining spending here.”

It was the best and worst of times for Unilever this week, as share prices and sales take a tumble just as it announces a profit boost and some fairly ambitious targets, reports the Financial Times.



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