In the papers this week 7-13 March 2009

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Asda set to enter the Irish grocery market; Dunnes Stores wins appeal against High Court ruling in unfair dismissal case; and custard creams are back



13 March 2009

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Earlier this morning, the announcement came on the Irish Stock Exchange that Sir Anthony O’Reilly is to step down as CEO of Independent News & Media in May. He is to be replaced by his son Gavin, The Irish Times reports. See the Irish Independent’s version here

The Sunday Business Post reported at the start of the week that a group of banks, led by AIB, has been granted a charge over three of INM’s main Irish newspaper titles; the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and Evening Herald. This says the SBP, “reflects both the weakened value of shares in INM plc, and the desire by the banks to take out security over specific assets” 


Asda looks set to shake up Ireland’s €13 billion grocery market, according to the Sunday Business Post. A deal which would see the grocery giant opening a superstore in the Dundalk Retail Park in Co Louth is said to be merely weeks from being finalised

The nation is turning to custard creams in times of economic crisis, says The Indo. Once passed over for speciality muffins in cafés, the humble custard cream is back. Sales of Bolands biscuits increased by about a tenth in 2008. Cash-strapped Celtic cubs have also embraced Jacob’s Club Milk, as sales were up by about a third last January

Dunnes has won an appeal against a High Court ruling that a former employee was wrongfully dismissed. Former store manager Adam Berber, who suffers from Crohn’s Disease, claimed his employer’s treatment had exacerbated his symptoms. However Justice Hardiman set aside the High Court order, except for €9,079 in bonus payments previously withheld from Berber. Read the story in full in The Irish Times.    

However, mediation hasn’t proved as successful for Dunnes Stores. The Irish Examiner reveals that talks with businessman Harry Crosbie have failed to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion. Crosbie claims Dunnes owes him €23 million as part of its agreement to become anchor tenant at the Point Village development in Dublin’s docklands. He is now proceeding with his application for an order requiring Dunnes to pay up under the alleged agreement.

The Irish Cancer Society has called on the Government to raise the price of a packet of cigarettes by €2 in the forthcoming emergency budget, says The Irish Times. It says the move would generate up to €420m in revenue and could “make a real difference in the fight against cancer and all other smoking related illnesses.”


Lidl Germany has expanded its range to include cut-price cars, reports The Irish Examiner. Its website will offer the Opel Corsa for just under €11,000 and the Volkswagen Cross Polo for €14,000; a discount of about 25% off the suggested price.


A good week for Westport-based Connemara Seafoods. The seafood supplier was named overall winner of the Small Firms Association annual awards. Taoiseach Brian Cowen said at the ceremony meanwhile he would implement measures to ensure Government departments paid small businesses within 15 days instead of the usual 30, the Irish Independent reports.  

Consumer prices have fallen by 1.7% in the last year, reports The Irish Times. Dr Ronnie O’Toole, chief economist with National Irish Bank, welcomes the news, saying "The fall in Irish inflation relative to other Euro zone countries should be seen as a welcome correction in cost levels.”

2008 was the first year in history when the volume of off-licence sales surpassed those recorded in pubs, says Pádraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland in The Irish Times. He claims the exchequer stands to lose €100 million in revenue annually as a result, because VAT on off-licence sales is lower.

The Financial Times takes a look at the difficulties faced by producers of ready meals in the current economic climate.  A willingness to invest has come back to haunt manufacturers as their excess capacity allows retailers to easily play the ‘switching game.’

Food group Aryzta, which includes Cuisine de France and Delice de France among its brands portfolio, this week reported a 15.8% growth in revenue to €1.57billion. While profits at the group’s food division were up almost 15% to €73, it has reported a slowdown in the food business in the Irish and UK markets and claims the next six months will be difficult to predict, The Irish Times reports

Also from The Irish Times, Agri-business group Origin Enterprises, in which Aryzta holds a majority stake, has also seen its operating profits grow by 34.6% to €27.2m  

Finally, despite experiencing “an unprecedented level of cost inflation” during 2008, Fyffes has reported that its total turnover is up 7% on the previous year. The fruit distributor has also said that pricing has significantly improved in recent weeks. The Irish Times and Irish Independent take a look



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