SO, Harvey Norman is celebrating 10 years in Ireland. After a decade of racking up losses, it seems somewhat indiscreet to be popping champagne corks.
Having built its base in Ireland during the boom years, the Australian retailer is still paying huge rents that have squeezed its ability to turn a profit. The fact consumers are carefully managing their own spending means Harvey Norman has had a real battle.
Its founder, Gerry Harvey, has previously described Ireland as a "basket case" and lamented the decision to ever enter the Irish market. While sales at the Irish arm – which included 12 stores in the Republic and two in the North – rose 1.9pc to €137.5m in the 12 months to the end of June, losses, excluding restructuring costs, were just under A$27m (€18.7m). But those losses were down on the previous year and Harvey Norman is confident it can become profitable.
"The next 10 years is about dominating the furniture and homewares market in Ireland, and also trying to become the number one Irish retailer of consumer electronics," according to a confident Blaine Callard, who heads the Irish division. The chain is number two.
"Despite a difficult few years, we are still getting enviable like-for-like revenue growth in Ireland, and so more and more people are shopping with us every year," he adds. Happy birthday.
'Brand Quinn' a busted flush
What's in a name? The unending saga about who-did-what-and-when in the collapse of Sean Quinn's business empire means the name of Ireland's formerly richest man still resonates, but it would be hard not to argue that "brand Quinn" is a bit of a busted flush.
His old Quinn Insurance business has been broken up and renamed as Laya, for health, and Liberty Insurance for the general insurance arm.
It's no surprise then that the current owners of Quinn's old manufacturing business have decided to start renaming assets.
They've decided to freshen up their plastics unit with the lively new name "Polycasa".
The new logo will feature circles within circles, we are told, which seems apt.
Polycasa means "home of plastics" and not "many houses" – as The Punt first assumed – in a so far unnamed European language, presumably one of the more Latiny ones.
Quinn Manufacturing is the rump of the old Quinn Group, and is now mostly owned by US bondholders and banks, including what used to be called Anglo Irish Bank – another brand that corporate managers have tried to kill off, but alas it, too, refuses to die.
AIB's green scheme is a good marketing wheeze
THE Punt has to admit we take a bit of a dim view of this whole notion of corporate social responsibility. Charity, at least in our view, is a matter for business owners, or indeed employees, not something shareholders should have done on their behalf by corporate managers.owever, we have decided we quite like AIB's marketing wheeze of backing community gardens around the country in conjunction with the Grow It Yourself (GIY) charity – it's a good scheme and a clever way to market the state-owned bank's preference to have customers shift from costly paper statements to the cheaper and greener digital option.
Using a share of the savings from the shift to e-statements to finance community gardens that carry the AIB brand makes sense to us on all levels.
So well done AIB, but next time just spare us the corporate nonsense.
Pictured at the AIB/GIY scheme's launch were GIY patron Ella McSweeney with Eileen McDonald and Dermot Byrne from Mud Island Comm-unity Garden in Dublin.