In the papers this week 25 Apr – 1 May 2009

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Tesco Douglas workers suspend strike; UK grocery retailers regulation process begins; Irish shoppers spent 17% less in the first 3 months, shopping centre rents falling behind



1 May 2009

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At Tesco in Douglas, Co Cork, The Irish Times reports that employees have agreed to suspend their strike action ahead of talks at the Labour Relations Commission.

Earlier in the week, the paper informed readers that up to 80 workers took to the picket line on Tuesday, to protest against the supermarket giant not honouring established terms and conditions. Seven workers said an enforced move to a Tesco branch nearby would remove entitlements such as premium payments for certain shift patterns and the right to work specific hours and certain Sundays.  

Meanwhile, Tesco Ireland has said it is slowing its shop-opening programme as the grocery market enters a period of deflation. The Sunday Tribune reports that while Tesco opened 16 stores here last year, the group may open only half that number this year, two of which are replacement shops.

Irish farmers called for multiples to be regulated, following Tesco Ireland’s announcement last week that it is moving its buying office back home. Over in the UK however a process has begun which could see this become reality. The Telegraph (UK) reports the Competition Commission has started a public consultation process on the long-awaited establishment of an ombudsman to oversee the relationship between supermarkets and suppliers.

Shopping centre owners are finding it increasingly difficult to collect their rents, reports The Sunday Tribune. A particularly serious case is that of the McDonagh Junction in Kilkenny, where the paper records total rent arrears of more than €620,000.

Bad news for the cereal category this week. A survey by consumers’ organisation Which?, found that some contain more sugar than a Cadbury chocolate flake. The Guardian reports that although there’s now a lower proportion of high-sugar cereals than in 2006, only eight out of 100 cereals qualify for a FSA "green light" for low sugar levels.

Nostalgics with a sweet tooth are mourning yet another rebranding of iconic confectionery, according to the Independent (UK). Tangerine Confectionery, manufacturers of Sherbet Fountain, are abandoning cardboard tubes to house the fizzy concoction and liquorice straw in favour of resealable plastic tubes, which they believe will be more hygienic.

And in the UK, campaigners have protested outside the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) over plans to increase limits on the number of chickens that can be housed in factory farms. The group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) complained that the new proposals would allow approx 21 birds per square metre, giving each chicken less space than an A4 sheet of paper.

Shoppers spent 17% less in Irish stores during the first three months of this year, reports The Irish Examiner. Figures released by Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) show January performed best out of the three months; an "alarming" statistic considering it’s traditionally the weakest month of the year.

The Irish Times reports that Shell has posted a sharp decline in quarterly profits following falls in the price of oil. The company said first-quarter crude and natural-gas production fell 3.6% because of reduced Nigerian output and Opec restrictions.

A lawsuit is being pursued by Varleigh Limited against The Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society (IAWS), for €48 million. Varleigh claims IAWS breached a contract relating to the proposed development of 16 acres of land in Tallaght for a new town centre. Owners Bernard McNamara and James Morrissey are pursuing IAWS, and its former director, Ronan McNamee, also a founder of Cuisine de France, over these ‘broken commitments.’

Proving that there’s still plenty of media mileage where the cross-border shopping phenomenon is concerned, the story cropped up in the UK this week. The Guardian tells how the Lawless family’s light gold Skoda Octavia was groaning with shopping bags in the car park of the Tesco store in Banbridge; having just saved up to €250 (£225) during their monthly shopping expedition into Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, Francess McDonnell suggests in The Irish Times, that the NI Government could reap more benefit from this flurry of cross-border activity, instead of just letting the profits go to UK multinationals. She ponders that perhaps the North’s political leaders have thought about introducing a small, nominal shopping tax for anyone crossing the border to enjoy NI’s retailing delights?   

The Guardian considers whether carbon labelling has become farcical. Tesco has just announced that its own-brand toilet paper and kitchen rolls have joined a group of 100 lines that declare on the packaging how much carbon dioxide is emitted during their production and distribution. But is the news that that each sheet of Tesco’s recycled toilet roll uses "1.1g of carbon" compared to 1.8g for its standard toilet roll, simply too much information?  

And finally, it arrived in email inboxes in bulk across the country this week, and The Irish Independent has confirmed that ‘the bull in a SuperValu shop‘ clip has become an online ‘Youtube’ sensation. Thousands logging on across the world to view the Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo store has generated priceless publicity for the SuperValu group.




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