In the papers this week 25 – 31 July 2009

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Pictured: Conor Hanley of FIRE1, Eimear McCrann and Roger Wallace of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (Photograph: Naoise Culhane)

Over two thirds of retailers have introduced pay freezes and 33% have cut pay; organic food found to have no extra nutrional value; Tesco rows with Unicef



31 July 2009

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Over two-thirds (67%) of retailers confirmed they have introduced pay freezes, according to ISME’s latest bi-monthly report. The remaining 33% have cut wages by an average of 13%. The Irish Independent reported moreover that over a quarter of SME owners expect to shed jobs in the next three months.

New research has claimed that organic food has no extra nutritional benefits over conventionally produced food. However, The Irish Times reports The Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA) has challenged this study, commissioned by the UK Food Standards Association (FSA), on the grounds it doesn’t take into account the health effects of pesticides and other contaminants found in some foods.

Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith has said large supermarkets in Ireland should extend their responsibilities to producers, processors and suppliers and not just stop at consumers and their shareholders. Speaking at an international agricultural producers conference in Dublin he added that he "awaited with interest" EU Agriculture Commissioner Marianne Fischer Boel’s reviews of anti-competitive practices and of the retail sector, to be published later this year.

Unicef Ireland and Tesco have become embroiled in a row over the use of the slogan "Change for Good".   Unicef has been using the slogan since 1987, and in conjunction with Aer Lingus in Ireland since 1997. However, Tesco insisted in The Irish Times that it was unaware of Unicef’s slogan when it started its campaign. Unicef Ireland chief executive Melanie Verwoerd has responded: "I find that very hard to believe. Has none of them flown transatlantic with Aer Lingus?"

The Wexford People has revealed that a gang who robbed an ATM at a Maxol service station in Enniscorthy managed to make off with a staggering €205,000 as the machine had been filled by Ulster Bank just the previous day. The culprits used a digger on site for renovation work to rip the ATM from the service station’s wall.

Gardai believe a gang based in Clondalkin in West Dublin are behind a recent spate of ATM raids, according to the New Ross Standard.

Meanwhile, the Irish Independent reported that the Garda Commissioner met with senior gardaí in Dublin on Monday to discuss the recent spate of smash-and-grab raids on ATMs. Six ATMs have been targeted in the past seven weeks by criminals who used diggers stolen from nearby building sites to remove the machines from walls.

Over half of all consumers are concerned about the safety of food imported into Ireland from outside the EU, new research by Safefood has revealed. The Irish Examiner reports 54% of people are worried about imported fresh meat and fish as well as poor regulations and food production standards in non-EU countries. However, Safefood, said such concerns were largely misplaced as food products from outside the EU were subjected to similar testing.

Retailers will no longer be able to sell Mass cards under Section 99 of the new Charities Act 2009, unless pre-signed by an arch bishop or ‘recognised person’ within the religious order. Church leaders believe pre-signed cards are costing clergymen millions of euro every year because the money is going to companies, or to foreign religious orders. The Evening Herald reports that in Cork, shops were selling cards signed by a priest who had actually died two years previously.

Reckitt Benckiser chief executive, Bart Brecht has said UK retailers could follow the example set by European counterparts such as Aldi in Ireland, and stock more brands, following a consumer backlash against own-label products. Brecht said in The Financial Times (UK) that the shift to private label was driven more by the trade than the consumer, while Beckitt’s brands such as Dettol, Calgon and Finish, had in fact reported a 40% increase in first half, pre-tax profits.

The Haire group of pharmacies, also known as the Kissanes group, has brought a High Court challenge over the Government’s decision to cut their fees for dispensing drugs and services. The pharmacist has claimed a 31% cut will put it into a loss-making situation, meaning it cannot repay its bank loans and will become insolvent, reports The Herald.

Cadbury has reported strong gains in chocolate sales, helped by the relaunch of 1980s favourite Wispa and the introduction of Clusters chocolates. The Irish Times reports first-half sales in Britain and Ireland rose 12% on the back of the new products. Revenue also increased at units in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, South America and the Pacific.



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