Friday 21 July 2017

Samantha McCaughren: Writing not on the wall yet for Dunnes development

Margaret Heffernan of Dunnes Stores. Picture: Donal Doherty
Margaret Heffernan of Dunnes Stores. Picture: Donal Doherty
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Building walls can be a divisive topic, and one put up by Dunnes Stores in Newbridge, Co Kildare has stirred up quite a bit of controversy among local businesses.

Dunnes has been upgrading its network, with Dublin southsiders flocking to the very fancy flagship in Cabinteely. Better value no longer beats them all with designer homeware and artisan foods now proving to be the real draw. Newbridge is now getting the Cabinteely treatment, but a wall blocking access to a neighbouring retail park has been blamed for congestion and disruption.

Goffs chairwoman Eimear Mulhern praised the result of the recent sales
Goffs chairwoman Eimear Mulhern praised the result of the recent sales

A Kildare County Council planning report said there were "serious concerns" about the boundary wall remaining. It "may endanger public safety by reason of a traffic hazard", it said asking Castlebrook, Dunnes' property arm for a further response.

Dunnes, which continues to be steered by the formidable Margaret Heffernan, put up a robust defence, claiming it was "increasingly" concerned about the manner in which the application was being dealt with. It claimed the council was acting outside its legal parameters, with Dunnes 'reserving its rights in relation to this matter'.

Last month, the council decided a condition requiring a removal of the wall was not feasible and granted planning for the upgrade of the centre. Local businesses are appealing, so the writing is not on the wall just yet.

Leicester owner among the winners at Goffs London Sale

Business was brisk at the fourth Goffs London Sale, which took place the rather grand surrounds of the Orangery at Kensington Palace last week.

A key player in the evening’s proceedings was bloodstock agency SackvilleDonald, acting on behalf of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the owner of Leicester City, who scooped up a total of six lots for just over £2m (€2.28m).

Alastair Donald said Srivaddhanaprabha had been looking to expand his interest in racing for a while, and was “keen to have greater presence at the Royal Meeting”.

Other notable sales included Whitefountainfairy, which cost just €3,000 at the Goffs Sportsman Sale last September and was sold for £300,000 (€342,000). 

Goffs chairwoman Eimear Mulhern was naturally quite pleased with the result. “It was a wonderful day from smaller Irish stud farms who bred these horses, proving the strength of this truly indigenous industry,” she said.

*****

Things are certainly hotting up in Liberty Hall. So much so that Siptu, the country’s biggest trade union, had to last week take the heatwave equivalent of what primary school children would fondly refer to as a “snow day”.

Last Wednesday afternoon, as the city baked in a muggy heat, and as paid-up Siptu members up and down the country gasped for breath in badly-air-conditioned offices and sweaty factories, the country’s biggest trade union was doing its bit for the rights of one set of boiling workers: its own officials. 

As temperatures rose and tempers frayed on Eden Quay, the trade union’s head of organisational development and support sent all staff a welcome email: “Colleagues, due to the humidity in Liberty Hall, caused by the exceptionally hot weather, we have decided to close the building at 3.30pm today.”

Rumours that Jack O’Connor and the remaining members of Siptu’s dwindling construction branch were later spotted with buckets and spades on Dollymount Strand could not be substantiated.

Former TV3 boss Frow tipped for top creative Channel 4 job

It's almost five years since Ben Frow left his role as programme director of TV3, where he oversaw shows such as The Apprentice and the often-maligned Tallafornia. At the time, he was frustrated with his meagre budget and indeed, 2012 was a grim year for the station.

Frow returned to the UK and is now with Channel 5, where his populist line of programming continues to win him praise.

Industry site Broadcast noted that people admire his “achievements at C5 on a limited budget”. He certainly had plenty of practice on that front.

Frow is now bringing Blind Date to C5, which may seem like a jaded format, but it is seen as a bold move, taking on the so-called shiny floor shows on the Saturday night slot jealously guarded by BBC1 and ITV. Presented by Paul O’Grady, it was called a smash hit by British press after last Sunday’s debut, bringing in two million viewers.

He is now being tipped in some quarters as a contender for the post of chief creative officer at Channel 4.

After years of penny-pinching, Frow must drool at the prospect of getting his hands on the station’s £630m (€717m) annual programming budget.

*****

The business world in Ireland has become terribly health conscious of late.

If it’s not a corporate run then it’s a charity cycle, with next week’s “Battle of the Bikes”, organised by WK Nowlan Real Estate Advisors, set to attract 20 teams to a so-called ‘Rollapaluza fixed rig sprint cycle challenge’.

Last year KPMG pipped lawyers Eversheds in the final and there are plenty of corporate types lining up for this year’s race.

Competitors at the event in CHQ in Dublin’s IFSC this Wednesday evening will be cheering on the team that can be the fastest over a 500-metre sprint, with entries from companies including Kennedy Wilson, Ronan Property and AIB.

Organisers expect to raise over €20,000 for Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

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