Monday 25 September 2017

TH€ PUNT: CHQ wakes up, smells coffee

GETTING our caffeine fix is a very important part of the Punt's day, so our attention was piqued by the news that the CHQ building, home of the closest Starbucks to Indo Towers, has changed hands. Its new owner is a man who is no stranger to cleverly marketed caffeinated drinks – Neville Isdell, pictured, former chairman and chief executive of Coca-Cola.

The IFSC's shopping centrepiece has long been plagued by low occupancy, so hopefully Mr Isdell can turn it around.

Its previous owners must have been pleased with the €10m sale price, after previous reports indicated its sale had stalled because of low bids. The listed 19th century building was developed by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority in 2005 at a cost of €47m, while maintentance costs alone are an estimated €600,000 a year.

Luckily, Mr Isdell is no stranger to a challenge. Born in Downpatrick, he grew up in Zambia and joined Coca Cola in 1966, where he swiftly rose through the ranks.

He is lauded for carving out new markets for fizzy drinks in India, the Middle East, eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

His experience in tapping into emerging markets should pay off at the CHQ. It is located in one of Dublin's oldest working class locations, but the Docklands area is rapidly gentrifying. All those young people with disposable incomes will have to get their coffees and designer snacks from somewhere.

Winklvii twins hope to coin it

SOME guys just can't help themselves. The Winklevoss twins – rowers, investors and infamously alleged founders of the idea behind Facebook – are back in the spotlight.

The Americans, Tyler and Cameron, have taken a lot of abuse in recent years, portrayed as spoiled rich kids in the film 'The Social Network'.

Weaker souls may retreat into the shadows and count their not-insubstantial fortunes, but not the Winklvii, as they have become known. The brothers are big backers of the virtual currency Bitcoin, and have plans to begin an investment fund for the currency. The plans are at an early stage.

They have filed the paperwork to create a fund but little more at this point.

Nevertheless, they are unlikely to have trouble drumming up interest for such a fund if they launch it.

Their name on its own is likely to attract investors, while Bitcoin itself has a growing number of evangelical followers.

The currency is not tied to any government and has a finite supply, so the perception is their value will keep rising.

That hasn't been the case, though, with a huge bubble in Bitcoin forming earlier this year, which then burst.

The brothers have seen the notional value of their own Bitcoin holding fall by about $3m (€2.3m). At least they have put their money where their mouth is.

Director hopes to bring in dough

The Punt wonders whether artist Caroline McCambridge is about to bring new meaning to artisan bread at the eponymous food firm.

The artist, based in the UK, is a member of the family behind the Irish McCambridge Group, which generated annual turnover of £113m (€131.8m) in the 12 months to the end of June last year from its sales in Ireland, the UK and elsewhere. Its main holding company is registered in the UK.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 26pc to £10.7m, while it returned a net profit of £685,000 compared to a £4.4m loss a year earlier.

McCambridge had a lot going on last year, including the finale to its successful legal action against rival Brennans, with the latter having lost a Supreme Court appeal to a High Court ruling that found Brennans had infringed McCambridge's intellectual property with its packaging.

McCambridge has had to stay a step ahead in a tough economic climate.

And new company filings in Ireland indicate that Caroline McCambridge has just been appointed a director of Ireland-based McCambridge Ltd.

Appropriately enough, she once took part in an exhibition entitled 'Baker's Dozen'. Always good to have one extra in the mix, no doubt.

Irish Independent

Also in Business