Wednesday 26 June 2019

Full circle for Canadian 'frenemies' at the forecourt

Irving Oil and Circle K are ‘frenemies’
Irving Oil and Circle K are ‘frenemies’

ERGO: Samantha McCaughren

Last month's takeover of the Rehill family's Top Oil business by Canadian company Irving Oil might pose a few interesting questions for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

Several commentators noted that Irving will be competing with another Canadian company in Ireland - Couche Tard, which bought Topaz, now rebranded as Circle K.

However, the relationship runs far deeper than that of just competitors. As one Canadian publication put it, that relationship could be better described as 'frenemies' - that fine balance between friends and enemies. According to Irving Oil's website, they are particularly close when it comes to the highly competitive forecourt market.

Under the Joint Venture section, it says Irving "began our relationship with North American retail industry Alimentation Couche-Tard in 2001 when we jointly developed a convenience store retail partnership in Quebec".

Under the partnership, 252 Irving Oil-owned convenience store properties in Atlantic Canada and New England were leased to Couche-Tard in 2008, operating the stores under its Circle K brand. The fuel pumps and sites are Irving Oil branded, and Irving Oil supplies the fuel products to the sites. A deal last year saw even more Irving sites adopt the Circle K brand. So just how will Irving compete with Circle K in Ireland?

Property ‘dragons’ get a dunking for good cause

Some dragons got a dunking last week — but unfortunately it had nothing to do with the race for the Aras.

Michael Stanley gets dunked at the Docks property industry fundraiser
Michael Stanley gets dunked at the Docks property industry fundraiser

The property industry fundraiser for the Dublin Simon Community, known as the Dragons at the Docks, took place at Grand Canal Dock with the Cairn Homes team taking gold in the final of the dragon boat racing, pipping Collen Construction and Investec.

Cairn boss Michael Stanley submitted to the “CEO dunking” that took place on the sidelines to help raise additional funds. He shared the honour with other leading industry figures including Green REIT’s Pat Gunne, and Hammerson’s boss in Ireland, Simon Betty.

Pat Gunne gets dunked at the Docks property industry fundraiser
Pat Gunne gets dunked at the Docks property industry fundraiser

The event raised more than €250,000 for the Dublin Simon Community and local charities. It was an initiative started last year by Hibernia REIT CEO Kevin Nowlan. Dalata Hotel, Glenveagh Property and Hines joined the six companies which launched it last year: Cairn Homes, Green Reit, Hammerson, Hibernia, Ires Reit and Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate.

Niche radio stations to launch on industry app

Ten new radio stations will launch on the Radioplayer app next Tuesday and will deliver tunes for a variety of niche tastes, ranging from soul music to country favourites.

As previously flagged in these pages, the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) opened up the service to the operators of stations already licensed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. There were 18 applicants and more broadcasters are now interested in adding to the original line-up of 44 stations.

Three of the stations will be from Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp, already available digitally. Wireless, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK & Ireland, will add two; Sunshine will launch a soul and Motown station; Cork’s Red FM is launching Red Hot, aimed at teenagers; WLR FM is doing a country and music station; Beat 102-103 is launching Noughtie Beats; and KFM is also adding a new station with extra local sports. Given the demand, a further 10 stations will be added later this year.

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KC Peaches, the cafe and delicatessen business which sells pastries, savoury dishes and coffee, is planning to add an extra location to its four Dublin outlets, I see.

Founded by Katie Cantwell in 2006, the food company already has thriving cafes in Nassau Street, Pearse Street, St Stephen’s Green and Dame Street, as well as a catering business, all focused on Cantwell’s preference for locally sourced wholefoods.

She is seeking planning permission to change a number of units on Thomas Street from retail use to restaurant use, with ground floor space on 33, 34 and 35 being eyed for the new premises.

It’s a little bit off the beaten track for KC Peaches, which has stayed close to the Grafton Street area, but Thomas Street is set for a transformation over the next couple of years. Among the developments under way or planned for Dublin 8 are a new Aloft Hotel at Blackpitts and the Hodson Bay’s Sheraton Hotel at The Coombe, not to mention Diageo’s St James’s Quarter on its landmark Guinness site.

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 Retailing expert David Fitzsimons moved on from the chief executive position at lobbying group Retail Excellence Ireland (REI) earlier this year and has already picked up a few new roles.

Among them is some work with charity Unicef — he will join the business advisory board which not only looks at corporate governance but also at how Unicef can take a business-like approach to raising money, given the importance of bringing in as much funding as possible.

Fitzsimons, who continues to chair REI and is now offering consultancy services to retailers, joins an interesting group on the Unicef business advisory board. Other members include former Munster and Irish lock Donncha O’Callaghan, who has done a huge amount of work for the charity for several years. Another member is Siobhan Plunkett, co-founder of cash in transit business GSLS, in which private equity firm Carlyle Cardinal took a majority stake in 2014 and sold on this year. Sounds like a good line-up for Unicef’s good works.

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