Business Irish

Friday 19 September 2014

Sarah McCabe: Whiskey's not 
for the faint of heart

Published 10/08/2014 | 02:30

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Jack and Stephen Teeling roll out the barrel

Teeling Whiskey broke ground this week on the new distillery it is building in Dublin's historic Liberties quarter. Cranes are returning to the Liberties for the first time in years, says the company's charismatic founder Jack Teeling, son of UCD lecturer and business legend John.

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Teeling is an exciting company. Pitched as an urban, niche brand, it is stocked in some of the capital's coolest bars, including Paddy McKillen Junior's Vintage Cocktail Club.

Jack is not the only Teeling involved. His brother Stephen is co-founder. They own the lion's share and have largely self-funded it.

You has to admire anyone starting from scratch in the whiskey business - it is a shockingly long-term game. By law, whiskey has to mature for three years before it can be sold. This means that even though Teeling's Dublin distillery will be up and running by next year, its produce won't hit the market until 2018 at the earliest.

Until then, the company will rely on old Irish whiskey stocks - a valuable and dwindling commodity - which it puts its own stamp on with maturation techniques such as storage in rum barrels.

So for Jack Teeling, it's a waiting game. It will be several years before he enjoys the fruits of his labour. But he's not complaining. He reserves that for the irritatingly expensive and time-cosuming planning process required to get approval for the new Dublin distillery.

 

Pressure on CRH to cut all Israeli ties amid crisis

More and more companies are coming under fire from Palestinian supporters to end their business ties with Israel.

The food industry has received the lion's share of the attention. SuperValu last week denied reports that it had asked staff to clear its shelves of Israeli products.

And the popular Exchequer bar and restaurant hit the headlines when it announced it will no longer stock Israeli goods. The Exchequer is co-owned by Leinster rugby star Gordon D'Arcy.

Most of Ireland's listed companies have escaped attention - bar one. Construction materials supplier CRH owns a 25pc stake in Israel's only cement producer, Mashav, whose cement was used to build the wall dividing Israel and the West Bank.

The business has the capacity to make 6m tonnes of cement. CRH has owned a stake in Mashav since 2001.

The company has come under heavy criticism from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign for this.

IPSC members who are also CRH shareholders regularly raise the issues at AGMs. In 2012 it presented a 10,000-signature strong petition to the CRH board calling for divestment from Israel and filed a complaint with the OECD.

CRH has kept quiet amidst the recent escalation of the Israel-Palestine conflict. A spokesperson said they couldn't possibly comment, while a source pointed out that previous reports of a probable sale for Mashav were speculative.

But it might well be just as financially beneficial for CRH to sell its stake in Mashav as it would be from a PR perspective.

In annual accounts filed in the US, CRH said it wrote off a total of €105m between its 25pc stake in Mashav and its 50pc stake in Turkish company Denizli Cement.

 

Forget luxury flats, student housing is the big earner

MOST people remember their student days as a time of enjoyable poverty. Nobody had anything more than a tenner to hand, but a pint cost half of that so it didn't matter.

But while students might be notoriously poor, there is serious money to be made from housing them.

British company Ziggurat knows this well. It's behind the revamp of the former Montrose Hotel, opposite UCD, which is being turned into student accommodation.

I learned last week that every single standard room at the Montrose is booked out for 2014 - despite the fact that it is not finished yet. These rooms cost €764 a month to rent - high by even Dublin standards.

But fear not, student house hunters. You can still put your name down for a plusher Superior room, which will cost you €920 a month.

Ziggurat is not the only UK firm to spot an opportunity that Irish developers just can't find the resources for. The group that recently announced plans for student residences in Dublin 8 is Knightsbridge Students Housing, which hails from - yes, you guessed it - London.

Knightsbridge boss Bob Crompton is reportedly considering four more Irish student residence projects.

Thanks goodness, given that the shortage of suitable housing has now reached epidemic levels.

It has become so dire that undergrads are being encouraged to seek out old people for shelter.

UCD-based Generation Accommodation has been set up to pair students with older people seeking company at home.

Meanwhile Trinity students are simply being sent a list of hostels.

 

Dawn raves give Isdell's CHQ a new lease of life

Commuters making their way to work through Dublin's IFSC last Tuesday did a double-take. Just visible in the bowels of the CHQ - the landmark retail hub bought last year by former Coca-Cola boss Neville Isdell - were 500 or so lycra-clad clubbers dancing their hearts out to rave music.

The vaults of the glass-framed CHQ, which Isdell paid €10m for last summer, was hosting the latest hispter craze Morning Gloryville. Started in uber-hip London suburb Shoreditch, it is essentially a club night that takes place before breakfast.

From 6.30am attendees, mostly financial and PR types from nearby offices, were welcomed with free hugs, smoothies, yoga classes and a packed dance floor.

Hosting these types of events is a smart move for the new management at the CHQ, who are slowly but surely turning the once lifeless building into a city stalwart.

Back in the day, the Dublin Dockland Development Authority spent €50m building it. But at one point had a tenancy rate of just 20pc.

Yet it is picking up again under Isdell's ownership, with the help of CHQ director Mervyn Greene, a former private equity man.

With events like food markets and art exhibitions, it is snapping up the IFSC's cash-rich, time-poor 20- and 30-somethings who hold down sensible financial services jobs during the week, but favour music festivals and craft beer shows at the weekend.

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